1937 : Martin Blanche Born, 1st African American MSU Board of Trustees Member

January 16, 2023 all-day


Born January 16, 1937 Blanche Martin was an academic all-American MSU football running back (1956-1959).  The 1957 Spartan Football team were national champions, one of six seasons in the team’s history in which they held that distinction, and thanks in no small part to Martin.  During that season, he scored 7 touchdowns and ran for over 600 yards.  But Martin is known for so much more than being a great Spartan running back.

Dr. Blanche Martin (DDS, University of Detroit Dental School, 1967) was elected to the Michigan State University Board of Trustees in 1969, the first African American to hold the position. He chaired the Board from 1974 to 1976, and served on the board until 1984.


MSU Board of Trustees, 1969. (standing L to R) Don Stevens, Frank Hartman, Warren Huff, Frank Thompson (sitting L to R) Stephen Nisbet, Blanche Martin, C. Allen Harlan, Frank Merriman

Dr. Martin also made great strides in improving conditions for minorities at Michigan State, increasing minority hiring and enrollment. Dr. Martin was also a co-founder of the College of Urban Development at Michigan State University.

Source: Matthew Wilcox, Audiovisual Archivist, “Blanche Martin and the 1957 Spartan Football Team”,  MSU Archives & Historical Collections Current Events Blog, January 16, 2017..