2018 : William Webb Ferguson, First African-American Legislator Honored

February 28, 2023 all-day

William Webb Ferguson

A portrait of William Webb Ferguson, the first African-American to serve in the Michigan Legislature, was unveiled in the Capitol on Wednesday by the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus.

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Governor Rick Snyder also attended the unveiling. Mr. Ferguson served in the House as a Republican from 1893 until 1896. Mr. Ferguson was from Detroit and the first African-American to attend Detroit Public Schools. His family also founded a newspaper for a by the black community in the city.

Mr. Ferguson was an advocate for the black community and fought for civil rights. After being denied service in a restaurant he filed a discrimination lawsuit eventually heard by the state Supreme Court, which sided with Mr. Ferguson and ruled against racial discrimination in public places.

Rep. Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint), chair of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, introduced HR 256, a tribute to Mr. Ferguson, which passed the House Wednesday. Sen. Vincent Gregory (D-Lathrup Village) sponsored SR 134, the same resolution, which passed the Senate.

Source : MIRS News Service, February 28, 2018