From the Director’s Desk

Greetings Allies, I am happy to introduce myself to all the MLBC partners, stakeholders and supporters. My name is Chris Jackson and I hail from the great city of Pontiac.

In my brief time as Executive Director for the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, I have been inspired and proud of the work our members — your elected leaders — are doing on behalf of Michigan communities of color across the state! Speaking of pride, we all have a reason to be proud of the communities we come from and represent. Pontiac, like other urban communities across Michigan with large Black populations, has overcome decades of hardships and inequalities due to systems designed to directly halt progress and opportunity. Despite these attempts at creating inertia along the pavement, our communities continue to find ways to innovate, facilitate and work to improve life for the generations of people coming behind us. We may view life through a different lens, but we ultimately visualize prosperous communities and the progress that comes with it.

The passing of the historic FY ‘24 budget, that begins to address and reverse the lack of prioritization in Black communities and other communities of color, is an effective step in what will be a process that requires all of us. I look forward to building and prioritizing our progress! If you would like to connect with MLBC, please feel free to reach out at any time.


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In solidarity, Chris Jackson
Executive Director
Michigan Legislative Black Caucus

In This Edition MLBC Policy Progress Community Spotlight Legislator’s Corner Celebrating the MLBC Upcoming Events MLBC Policy Progress  

The Michigan budget has successfully passed, marking a significant milestone for the state. The MLBC played a crucial role in ensuring that the budget addresses the priorities of the Black community. With a strong focus on equity and social justice, the MLBC advocated for increased funding for education, healthcare, economic development and criminal justice reform.

This budget passage truly reflects the commitment of MLBC. Here are the highlights:Largest increase ever in funding to the Michigan Dept. of Civil Rights (46.8% increase)Funding for Racial Disparities Task Force recommendations to improve health equity Funding for Minority owned food & agriculture ventures Increase in School Aid Fund (SAF) for at-risk students, the opportunity index, full special education funding, and full funding of school meals Increase to the minority supplier council – $2.5M$10M for minority owned businesses Funding for Ferris State Jim Crow Museum, Charles H. Wright Museum & Detroit Historical Society Funding for equity in education/teaching history accurately Adding DEI officers and requiring metrics from departments that historically have not had such deliverables  Violence prevention funding Community-based crisis response grants Providing training to local Police Departments focusing on cultural awareness, tolerance, diversity, implicit bias, conflict management, de-escalation and reduction of trauma to victims and use of force on vulnerable people

Community Spotlight Acknowledging our Community Heroes: Barbara Talley 

Barbara Talley, also known as “The Mother of Southfield,” is a native Detroiter and longtime resident of Southfield. A pillar of the community — this dedicated public servant has been a trailblazer throughout her career, relentlessly fighting for African Americans’ rights, equality, and justice in the city of Southfield and across the state of Michigan. The strides she made for our community are countless as the first African American elected to public office in Southfield as well as the first African American to run for Mayor of Southfield. Women and people of color will forever follow the path she carved to out to hold elected office in our city. In fact, in her two-terms in office she initiated an Affirmative Action Plan, hiring minority police, fire, management personnel, and elevating women in city government. Ms. Talley is also the founder of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force, 1986, and held the first Peace Walk in Michigan which continues as the largest in the State. Barbara was the Project Director of a Traveling exhibit “Pathway to Freedom in the Americas: Shared Experiences between Michigan, USA and Guerrero, Mexico.” She has served as Executive Director of Detroit Renaissance District Peace Center, United Methodist Church; and in 2008 coordinated a Peace Mission to Liberia, West Africa to meet President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and conducted several workshops for teenagers who fought in the Liberia civil war. She is an author and volunteers her time as a member in civic organizations, including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Southfield, Alumnae Chapter, Southfield Historical Society, National Congress of Black Women, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force Advisory Board, and Hope United Method Church.


We value our communities and the incredible work they do! To be featured in our next Community Spotlight, simply send an email to Please include your name and a description of the community action. We can’t wait to highlight you!
Legislator’s Corner  

Michigan House of Representatives

Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Detroit) served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2015 to 2019 and is in her second term in the State Senate. She is the longest currently serving Black Legislator, is Chair of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, and Asst. Pres. Pro-Tempore of the state senate.Sen. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2018 to 2022 and was sworn into the Senate in 2023. She is the first Black legislator to Chair the Senate Appropriations Committee and is First Vice Chairperson of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus.

Senators Sarah Anthony and Erika Geiss on Historic Michigan Budget “In 2020, our country faced racial unrest that perpetuated damaging actions that would systemically influence yet another generation. The persistent gaps in health, education and wealth between Black people and their white counterparts acted as catalysts to the realities we faced. These realities forced communities and their leaders to either accept the status quo or inspired them to actively engage in a way that would create a more equitable society. Michigan took the opportunity to lead by example, in part with a budget process that was led by, and supported by, Black women, that will assist in creating a path for addressing systemic racism. It’s the first time in Michigan history a Black female lawmaker has chaired the budget appropriations committee.”

Read the entire Freep op-ed here.
Celebrating the MLBC

The Global African Business Association

The Global African Business Association (GABA) recently held its inaugural GABA Global Business Dinner & Awards where the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus was awarded with the Public Policy Award. This year’s theme was “Uniting the Great Lakes Region and The African Union in the 21st Century”. The MLBC received this award for being at the forefront of addressing issues of social and economic justice that concern people of color in the State of Michigan. The star-studded event included H.E. Hilda Suka-Mafudze, the ambassador of the African Union to the United States of America, who visited the state of Michigan for the first time.
Upcoming EventsCongressional Black Caucus — 52nd Annual Legislative ConferenceThe Congressional Black Caucus is hosting one of the nation’s premier policy forums where critical discussions, innovative solutions and a unified vision for progress and equity come to life.
Location: Washington D.C.Dates: September 20-24
More Information:

National Black Caucus of State Legislators – 47th Annual Legislative ConferenceThe National Black Caucus of State Legislators holds a variety educational, regional, issue-based and national meetings and events to assist African American legislators and their staff across the country.Location: Nashville, Tennessee 
Dates: November 28th – December 1st
More Information: