Rudy Wilson had his own plan for breaking down the color barrier in East Lansing.
In the 1960s, even the black college kids could not live in East Lansing, other than on campus, said Fred Porter, who met Wilson more than 60 years ago. Landlords wouldn’t rent to them.
Wilson gathered some young men he knew, white and black, and sent them each to apply for an apartment in the same building. When Porter applied, they told him they’d let him know. Then, the white man went in with the same credentials and got an apartment on the spot.
“Rudy went over there and told them he had evidence and was going to sue them,” Porter chuckled. “All of a sudden those apartments opened up for us. Those were the kinds of things Rudy did that he never got credit for.”
Wilson broke more than one barrier in Lansing. He was hired in 1955 as the first salaried black employee at Oldsmobile. He was the first black member of the Ingham Intermediate School District board.
He fought to ensure that black residents displaced by the construction of Interstate 496 got a fair price for their houses. He fought, Porter said, to integrate the workforce at Quality Dairy stores in Lansing. He led the local branch of the NAACP for nearly a decade.
For the full article, see Vickki Dozier, “Rudy Wilson, longtime community leader, dies at 90”, Lansing State Journal, August 8, 2015.