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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Community members and members of the media are invited to attend a series of special events taking place on Friday, Sept. 24 in honor of Dr. Robert L. Green. Dr. Green was a civil rights leader who fought against racial discrimination in East Lansing and, ultimately, became the first black person to purchase a home in the community through the use of a realtor using U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 executive order mandating an end to housing discrimination. He purchased his home at 207 Bessemaur Drive, located in the Pinecrest Neighborhood, along with his wife, Lettie, in 1964.
Dedication Ceremonies for Robert L. Green Elementary School and Michigan Historical Marker On the morning of Friday, Sept. 24, dedication ceremonies will be hosted for the recently renamed Robert L. Green Elementary School, 1811 Pinecrest Drive, and a new Michigan historical marker installed in the park land adjacent to Dr. Green’s former home at 207 Bessemaur Drive. Following the dedication ceremony at the school, which will begin at 9:30 a.m., participants will be invited to join in a march down to 207 Bessemaur Drive for the dedication of the historical marker at 11:30 a.m. Dr. Green will be in attendance to speak at both dedications. Local dignitaries and school officials will also be in attendance to speak. “An Evening with Dr. Robert L. Green” at the Wharton CenterThe dedication ceremonies will be followed by “An Evening with Dr. Robert L. Green” on Friday, Sept. 24 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, 750 E. Shaw Lane. The free-to-the-community program, presented by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan and the One Book, One Community program, will feature Dr. Green’s reflections on the Civil Rights Movement and he will be joined by Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II. Following the program, community members are invited to stay for a performance by the MSU College of Music Wind Symphony at 8 p.m.
Those who plan to attend the Wharton Center program are reminded that all individuals are required to wear masks indoors in all MSU campus buildings: https://msu.edu/together-we-will/campus-visitors/. Parking information is available here: https://www.whartoncenter.com/plan-your-visit/directions-parking.
Special thanks to Cinnaire, the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, Case Credit Union, LAFCU and AT&T for sponsoring the Dr. Green events.
About Dr. Robert L. Green Dr. Robert L. Green is a civil rights pioneer and was a close friend and colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who served as the education director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from 1965-1967 and as a consultant for many of the nation’s largest school districts. He is a nationally known scholar and an expert on education, urban development and issues related to diversity, and he continues to fight for social justice and educational equity today. In 1964, while serving as a professor at MSU and a member of the East Lansing Human Relations Commission, realtors blocked Dr. Green from buying a home in East Lansing despite the 1948 U.S. Supreme Court decision ending state enforcement of restrictive housing covenants. Dr. Green filed a complaint with the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, which had been empowered with “general authority to investigate alleged racial discrimination” by Michigan’s 1963 constitution. The investigation of his complaint led the Michigan Civil Rights Commission to order a local realty company to sell to Dr. Green. Not wanting the company to profit from him, Dr. Green purchased a different home at 207 Bessemaur Drive in East Lansing. Dr. Green’s high-profile case spurred local advocacy against housing discrimination, which ultimately led to the adoption of a fair housing ordinance by the East Lansing City Council on April 8, 1968 – four days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. Green’s children were some of the first Black children to integrate Pinecrest Elementary School, which has now been renamed the Dr. Robert. L. Green Elementary School by a unanimous vote of the East Lansing Public Schools Board of Education.
Dr. Green has also published a memoir, “At the Crossroads of Fear and Freedom: The Fight for Social and Educational Justice,” which relates previously untold stories about major civil rights campaigns that helped put an end to voting rights violations and Jim Crow education. His memoir also details how he helped urban school districts improve academic achievement levels and explains how this history can inform future improvements to the American education system.
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.