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Biographies

Michigan’s first colored troop to fight for the Union in the Civil War.

Governor Russell Alger’s wife. Philanthropist.

Michigan Governor. U.S. Senator. Civil War Major General. Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic.

African American medical doctor who established and ran the first African American hospital in Detroit, Dunbar Memorial Hospital. Michigan Legislator. Detroit Community activist. Political Leader.

Lawyer. Civil Rights activist. Appointed to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Michigan Governor. U.S. Senator. Republican Party founder. Business Leader. Founder of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Commander at Fort Shelby, Detroit. Political Leader. Michigan Legislature. Business Leader in Railroad and Banking Industries. Philanthropist. Religious.

Philanthropist. Suffragist.

Jazz Musician. Motown Musician. Motown Bus Tour founder and guide to young talent.

Minister and Pastor of Second Avenue Baptist Church. Civil Rights activist; Community Leader.

Descendant of Duke of Vendome, brother to King Henry IV of France. Native American prisoner.

Brigadier General in Civil War; killed in action at Bull Run. Captain in Mexican War. Attorney. Michigan Senate. Owner and Editor of Democratic Free Press and Detroit Commercial Bulletin. Active in Politics. Detroit Postmaster.

First African American woman in Michigan Senate. Lawyer. Associate General Counsel at U.S. Post Office. Social Worker with Detroit Police Department.

Michigan’s first lawyer. Abolitionist. U.S. Attorney. Colonel War of 1812.

Philanthropist. Treasurer of Ladies’ Soldiers’ Aid Society in the Civil War.

Teacher. Philanthropist.

Michigan’s first Territorial Governor. Brigadier in General War of 1812. U.S. Secretary of War. U.S. Senate. U.S. Minister to France. U.S. Secretary of State. Helped raise troops for the Union in the Civil War.

Soprano concert tours. Active in the Arts. Voice Teacher later in life.

Political Leader. Detroit Mayor. Michigan Governor. Republican Party founder. Abolitionist. U.S. Senator. U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

Medical Doctor. Established first drug store in Detroit. Mayor of Detroit. City Physician during cholera epidemics.

Brigadier General in Civil War.

Captain in Mexican War. Brigadier in General Civil War. Commander at Fort Wayne.

Founded the oldest African American funeral home in Detroit. Real Estate Investor. Livery Stable. Community Leader.

Owner of Dry Goods Store. Builder of Michigan Exchange. Founder of Detroit Anti-Slavery Society.

Mexican War Lt. Colonel in charge of the Mormon Battalion. Led longest march over land covering 2,000 miles westward to the Pacific Ocean. Created the first wagon road from Santa Fe to the Pacific. Major General in Civil War.

Civil Rights leader. Founder of Green Pastures Camp, the first camp for African American children in Michigan. Key figure for placing black workers in good jobs. Opened community center for baby clinic, job placement office and cultural center.

3-time Grammy Winner. Music producer and writer behind a number of top hits in the 60s and 70s. Studio Musician. Owner of United Sound Recording Studio. Chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank, the only African American owned bank in Michigan.

Military service in the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry, the first colored regiment to fight for the Union in the Civil War. Mason.

Key figure in Detroit’s Underground Railroad. Abolitionist. Owner of T. Whitney steamship to ferry freedom seekers to Canada. Founder of Michigan’s first colored regiment for the Union in the Civil War, 102nd USCT.

Lawyer. Gunners in Mate Spanish-American War. Michigan Legislator. U.S. Representative. Appointed Commissioner for Panama Canal Zone land titles. U.S. Secretary of Navy.

Born into slavery. Sought freedom in Denison vs. Tucker. Gained freedom by fleeing to Canada and then returning to Detroit. Cofounded the St. James Episcopal Church on Grosse Ile. First African American land owner in Pontiac.

Brigadier General in Civil War. Captain in Mexican War. Regimental Quartermaster at Fort Monroe.

Major General in Spanish American War. Assistant Provost Marshal General in Civil War. Lawyer.

Among first African Americans to earn a medical degree. Community Leader. Abolitionist. Underground Railroad operator.

Lawyer. First African American Michigan Legislator. Landmark Civil Rights case Ferguson vs Gies where Michigan Supreme Court ruled separation by race in public places illegal.

Violinist and Bandleader. Established the Bailey and Finney Orchestra.

Brigadier General in Civil War. Wounded at Gettysburg. U.S. Tax Collector for Detroit. Public Servant.

First African American Foreign Service Officer as Vice Consul in Caracas Venezuela. Government Service. Community Leader.

Lt. Col. and Assistant Inspector General First Brigade. Civil War Captain. Michigan Legislator. President Detroit City Council. Founded A Goebel & Company, Detroit’s 3rd largest brewery.

Olympic athlete who won the gold medal in the long jump. Teacher.

Civic Leader. Established the first black vocational school in Detroit. Civil Rights activist.

Business Leader in real estate, banking and finance. Mason. Charter Member and Commander of Detroit’s Grand Army of the Republic Post.

Soprano Vocalist. Described as “race musical missionary” organizing community events to provide opportunities to African Americans.

Staunch Presbyterian. Founder of Detroit’s Anti-Slavery Society. Agent for the Underground Railroad.

Surgeon. Major in the Civil War. Military Career.

Political Leader. Civil Rights. Women’s Rights. First African American woman on Detroit City Council.

Physician. Michigan Geologist. Detroit Mayor.

Political Leader. Lawyer. U.S. Senator. Abolitionist. Drafter of the 13th, 14tth, 15tth amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Political Leader. Lawyer. U.S. Congress. 6th Territorial Governor of the Dakotas.

Professional Boxer. Musician. Reporter. Newsman.

Business Leader in railroad industry. Lawyer. Michigan Legislator.

Sergeant in Civil War. Prisoner of War. Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

Medical Doctor. Founder of Professional Medical Centers, ProCare Health Plan, a Medicaid HMO, and ProCare Plus. Active in Nigerian poverty groups.

Abolitionist. Business Leader. Founder of Colored Vigilant Committee – Detroit’s first Civil Rights organization. Organized the African-American Mysteries: Order of the Men of Oppression. Key organizer and operator of the Underground Railroad.

Military Service in Civil War, Spanish-American War, and War in the Philippines. Brigadier General.

Brigadier General in Civil War.

Composer. Pianist. Promoter of Fine Arts understanding. Established music studio to teach children in Detroit. Cofounded Heritage House and Fine Arts Center for young people.

Medical Doctor. First African American Medical Examiner for Wayne County.

Lawyer. Detroit Mayor for 4 terms.

Lawyer. Political Leader. Michigan Governor. Legislator and Speaker of the House. U.S. Congress. U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

Historian. Teacher. Administrator. Author.

Lawyer. Political Strategist and Activist for key African American campaigns.

Lawyer. Military service began in the Civil War and continued after. Brevetted Brigadier General after retirement from active service.

Lawyer. First African American woman appointed to Wayne County Circuit Court. Human Rights advocate. Civil Rights activist. Founded the Wayne County Neighborhood Legal Services. Community Leader. Arts Patron.

Business Leader. Military service in the Spanish-American War and World War I. Assistant Secretary of the Navy. U.S. Congress.

Historian. Author. Bookbinding Business and Real Estate Holder. Civil War and following Quartermaster General.

Finance Leader. First African American Controller for Detroit. Wayne County Director of Budget and Finance. Community Leader.

Journalist and Political Leader. Owner and Editor of The Plaindealer, Detroit’s first successful African American newspaper. Held various positions in local government.

Medical Doctor. Detroit Mayor. Founder of Wayne County Medical Society. President of American Medical Association. Military Service as Surgeon, U.S. Army. President of Army Medical Board.

Business Leader. Civil War Brigadier General. Detroit Police Superintendent and Commissioner. Inspector of the House of Corrections.

Military service in Mexican War and Civil War. Brigadier General in Civil War.

Michigan Territorial Governor. Established the first public school district system in Detroit, and the first mail routes in Michigan. Military service in War of 1812. Major General.

Born into slavery. Temperance Advocate and Organizer. President of Michigan Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. Reader and Elocutionist.

Lawyer. Business Leader. Military Service in Civil War. Brigadier General.

Poet. Founder of Broadside Press publishing, leading African American poets and political writers. Named Detroit Poet Laureate.

First African American Firefighter to die in action. Detroit Fire Boat is named after him.

Detroit’s first African American teacher. Brought kindergarten concept to Detroit. Opened a private school for black children only. Founder of Phyllis Wheatly Home for Aged Colored Ladies, and Michigan State Association of Colored Women. Protested against Detroit’s segregated school system.

Business Leader and Civil Rights activist. Trusted member of the Underground Railroad inner circle. Organizer of Michigan’s first colored regiment who fought for the Union in the Civil War, the 102nd USCT.

Military Leader serving in the Mexican War and Civil War. Major General. Author of Michigan in the War.

Surveyor and Engineer. Military Service in the Civil War and then Michigan National Guard. Brigadier General.

Pastor of True Love. Several additional pastorates previously. Author of 4 publications in Christian Education, Leadership and Counseling. Teacher. Lecturer.

Musician. Educator. Coach. Played with entertainers, orchestras, stage shows and Broadway musicals. Jazz great. Founder of Northwestern High School Jazz Band.

Lawyer. Civil Rights activist. Administrative Law Judge. Historian. Civic Leadership.

Military Service in the Civil War. Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

Military Service in the Civil War. Brigadier General. Real Estate businessman. U.S. Customs official.

Lawyer. First Detroit Mayor. Key figure in establishing Detroit. Civic Leader serving in numerous capacities. Business and Political Leader.

Manager and Trainer of many young boxers, including Joe Louis.

Lawyer. Civil Rights activist. Common Pleas Judge.

Radio personality and legend. Community Leader. Founder of Order of the Fisherman Ministry. First African American female to own a radio station.

Lawyer. Politician. Author. Civil Rights leader. Represented Ferguson in his case against Gies before the Michigan Supreme Court, where segregation in public places was outlawed. Wayne County Judge. Founding President of National Federation of Colored Men.

Lawyer. Detroit City Attorney. Wayne County Prosecutor. U.S. Congress. Military Service in the Civil War. Brigadier General.

Business Leader. Postmaster of Detroit. Military Service in the Civil War. Brigadier General. Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

First African American officer in the Detroit Fire Department and first African American Battalion Chief.

Minister. Founder of St. Clair Academy. Abolitionist and active agent in Underground Railroad.

Military Service in the Civil War. Brigadier General.

Medical Doctor. Military Service in the Mexican War and Civil War serving as Surgeon, Medical Director, Chief Medical Officer and Brigadier General. Author of 4 medical texts for Army surgeons and numerous articles on medical practice.

Lawyer. Military Service in the Civil War. Major General. Provost Marshal of Eastern Tennessee. Detroit’s Collector of Internal Revenue. Detroit Comptroller. Port of Detroit Appraiser.

Humanitarian. Minister. Founded the Mother Waddles Perpetual Mission.

Business Leader. Michigan’s first millionaire. Abolitionist.

Medical Doctor. First African American admitted to the University of Michigan’s Medical Department. Detroit's first African American elected city officer, Board of Estimates.

Abolitionist. Instrumental in Detroit’s Underground Railroad.

Lawyer. U.S. District Court Judge for the Michigan Territory. Assisted Underground Railroad in Detroit.

Lawyer. Civil Servant. Politician. Newspaper Editor. Military Service in the Patriotic War, Mexican War, and Civil War, and was the first Michigan General. U.S. Congress.

Journalist. Author. Historian. Patron of the Arts. Dedicated his life to the collection, preservation and interpretation of historical materials about African Americans.

Military Service in the Black Hawk War, Mexican War, and Civil War. Brigadier General. Killed in action.

Owner of Forest Club banquet hall. Boxing Promoter. Live stage promoter. Political Consultant.

Lawyer. Michigan Territory Secretary. Collector of Customs in Detroit. First territorial representative U.S. Congress. Michigan Governor. Territorial Supreme Court Judge. U.S. Senator.

Business Leader. Military Service in the Civil War, Brigadier General.

Medical Doctor. Historian. Author. Civil Rights activist in integrating Detroit’s hospitals and as resident physician during marches.

Olympic gold medal winner in track and field events.

Politician. Civil Rights activist. Labor Leader. Tuskegee Airman. Detroit’s first African American Mayor and Detroit’s longest serving mayor.

Business Leader. Abolitionist. Sheltered and assisted freedom seekers on the Underground Railroad.