Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation

Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation

Where Detroit's History Endures
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Marcena W. Taylor

Marcena W TaylorMarcena W. Taylor
(1911-1994)

Marcena W. Taylor was born on January 25, 1911 in Chattanooga, Tennessee and moved to Detroit in 1927.  He attended Livingston College from 1929 – 1933.  

Taylor was one of two African American firefighters to integrate the Detroit Fire Department in the late 1930s.  He chronicles his experiences in Untold Tales, Unsung Heroes. He worked at the post office and was told about a possible position with the Detroit Fire Department. About sixty African Americans sat for the exam out of a total of 5,000.  When Taylor first worked for the Fire Department, discrimination and segregation was prevalent.

He became the first African American officer when he was appointed Sergeant in 1952 and the first African American Battalion Chief in 1969. Chief Taylor retired from the Detroit Fire Department in 1971.

He died in 1994 and is buried in Elmwood’s Firemen’s Lot 11/12-1.