The Michigan Legislative Black Caucus had humble beginnings. It was formed in the Detroit home of Rep. Morris Hood, Jr., who was elected as it’s first leader.
From there, the caucus has contributed to many milestones in our state history, including the establishment of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in 1985 and the election of the first African American as leader of the House Democratic Caucus in 2000.
The history of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus tells a story of courageous political leaders who worked to make a difference and to create a better Michigan for future generations.
- 1892 William W. Ferguson became the first African American to win election to the Michigan Legislature. He served two terms in the House of Representatives (1893 to 1896).
- 1941 The year of the United States’ entry into World War II was also the first year in which two African Americans served simultaneously in the Michigan Legislature. Charles C. Diggs of the Senate was joined by Horace A. White, who won a seat in the House of Representatives.
- 1950 Charline White became the first female African American to win election to the Michigan Legislature. She served in the House of Representatives until 1959. This year also saw the election of the first second-generation African American legislator. Charles C. Diggs, Jr. won a seat in the Senate just as his father had done thirteen years before.
- 1969 Matthew McNeely became the first African American elected by the House of Representatives as Associate Speaker Pro Tempore. In 1973, he was elected Speaker Pro Tempore. Coleman Young of the Senate was appointed Minority Floor Leader of the Senate in the same year.
- 1975 Both Jackie Vaughn III and David S. Holmes were elected to leadership positions in the Michigan Senate. Vaughn became the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and Holmes, the Majority Caucus Chairman. Neither position had before been held by an African American.
- 1976 The Legislative Black Caucus was formed this year after a meeting at the Detroit home of Rep. Morris Hood, Jr., where he was elected as the first Caucus Chairman.
- 1983 After a hiatus of four years, Joe Young, Sr. returned to the Michigan Legislature, joining his son, Joe Young, Jr. and making them the first African American father and son to serve in the Legislature simultaneously.
- 1985 The lobbying efforts and leadership of African American legislators led to the passage of a statute to establish the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.
- 1997 Morris W. Hood, Jr. becomes the first African American lawmaker in Michigan to chair the House Appropriations Committee.
- 1999 African American membership in the Michigan Legislature reaches 20 (5 in the Senate, 15 in the House), the most in history. Virgil Smith in the Senate and Kwame Kilpatrick in the House each serve as Democratic floor leaders.
- 2000 Kwame Kilpatrick became the first African American to be elected as leader of the House Democratic Caucus. He left office in January 2002 to take office as mayor of Detroit.
- 2002 Senator Bill Hardiman is the first Republican African American in the Michigan Legislature since Senator Charles Roxborough, who served in 1932.