EAST LANSING, Mich. — Pinecrest Elementary School is being renamed Robert L. Green Elementary School after the civil rights leader who helped break the color barrier in East Lansing.
Green was honored on Sept. 24 with a ceremony in front of the elementary school.
His great great niece, Mikayla, attends the school and was at the ceremony.
“I’d like to dedicate this song to my great great uncle Dr. Robert L. Green. Thank you for working for social justice for all, people...love Mikayla," she said before singing "Hero," by Mariah Carey with her classmates.
Green sat in the audience watching children from the school he helped integrate sing.
Community members, teachers, students from past and present, and even Ernest Green of Little Rock Nine and Martin Luther King Jr. III, gathered in front of the school. Green was education director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s. He was also among the first Black people to own a home in East Lansing.
"Dr. Green’s story doesn’t begin and end with a purchase of a home here in East Lansing. And East Lansing’s civil rights and social justice history doesn’t begin and end with Dr. Green, however Dr. Green along with his wife, Leti, were an integral part of the civil rights of East Lansing and the nation," East Lansing School Board member Kath Edsall said in a speech.
Green, a longtime Michigan State University professor and administrator, talked to the students about the importance of understanding their history.
“I’m so proud of you and I’m glad that you remember that I did talk about the importance of reading, reading constantly about the past, about the present, so you can think about what the future will be like," he said.
In an interview, Green spoke about one thing he wants the students of Robert L. Green Elementary School to know.
"Social justice at this young age is a very important matter for people to know about and understand because they’re going to encounter challenges in life that they’re going to need to know how to deal with it," he said.
Green and the community marched from the School to his old house on Bessemaur Drive. Right near his old home stands a historical marker in his honor.
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