Calvin Coolidge Green

Calvin Coolidge Green (July 19, 1931–February 10, 2011)

Civil Rights Activist and Educator
New Kent County

Calvin Coolidge Green (July 19, 1931–February 10, 2011) received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Virginia State College (later Virginia State University) in 1956 and a master’s degree from the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina (later North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University) in 1965. He taught high school biology and chemistry in Richmond for more than 30 years. He also earned degrees in theology and pastoral counseling, and served as pastor to churches in the Richmond area and surrounding counties. Green served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, was promoted to colonel in the Army Medical Service Corps, and also served in the Army Reserve Chaplain Corps.

Ten years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing school segregation, Virginia continued to defy court orders to desegregate. As president of the New Kent County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Green determined to force the issue where he lived and his three sons attended school. In 1965, he filed suit (in his youngest son’s name) against New Kent County, which implemented a “freedom of choice” plan that required African-American students to petition the school board for permission to switch to the school for white students. The Supreme Court ruled in 1968 that the county’s dual system was unconstitutional and that the school board had to devise a realistic plan to desegregate immediately. The decision in Charles C. Green et al. v. County School Board of New Kent County effectively forced the integration of schools in Virginia and nationwide.