1863 : Colored Men Of Michigan State Convention Held in Ypsilanti
Jan 28 all-day
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On January 28, 1863, as a response to the Emancipation Proclamation and the raising of Black troops in the North, Michigan’s African-American men, including leading national figures like Martin Delaney, George DeBaptiste and William Whipper met in Ypsilanti to demand, before African-Americans would participate in the war, that the word “white” be removed from the state constitution.

Source : South Adams Street circa 1900, February 5, 2018

1877 : Lake George and Muskegon River Railroad in Clare County Opens To Faciliate Year-Round Logging
Jan 28 all-day

Winfield Scott Gerrish opens the 7.1-mile-long Lake George and Muskegon River Railroad in Clare County. Following a warm winter that seriously hampered logging activities, Gerrish moved 20 million board feet of logs to the Muskegon River. The next year, he increased his output sixfold. Though Gerrish was not the first to build a Michigan logging railroad, his operation was well-publicized and successful. It revolutionized lumbering in Michigan. By 1882, 32 narrow-gauge logging railroads operated in the state. The railroads permitted new areas to be logged and all sizes of trees to be cut and, most important, allowed year-round transportation of logs to the sawmills. Commercial logging in Michigan had flourished since the Civil War, drawing immigrants from around the world—especially Scandinavians, Germans, Irish and Canadians. Michigan retained its national leadership in lumber production until 1900. By the end of the lumbering era, Michigan loggers cut 161 billion boardfeet of pine logs and 50 billion boardfeet of hardwoods. That is equivalent to a half-mile wide, one-inch plank road from New York to San Francisco. In dollar value, Michigan lumber outvalued all the gold extracted from California by a billion dollars. It also created a furniture industry centered in Grand Rapids that flourished well into the 20th century. However, wasteful logging practices left enormous cut-over acres that were periodically ravaged by fire. In 1881—in one of Michigan’s worst natural disasters—fires in the Thumb left 300 people dead. That fire also was the first disaster relief project for the American Red Cross.

January 28, 1877 by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

1898: Sault Sainte Marie Sets Speed Limit at 6-MPH
Jan 28 all-day

On January 28, 1898, the Soo Times railed against a 6-mph speed limit the Sault Sainte Marie City Council had imposed. The Times wrote, “It is violated every day in the year by every man who by any means navigates in a wheeled or ‘runnered’ vehicle. A second-class ox team will go 6 miles an hour. A horse with every leg spavined and suffering in the last stages of the heaves will travel 6 miles an hour over a corduroy road.”

Source: Michigan Every Day

1958 : Ozzie Virgil, First Detroit Tiger of Color
Jan 28 all-day
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On January 28, 1958, the Tigers shipped Jim Finigan and $25,000 to the San Francisco Giants for Gail Harris and Ozzie Virgil. Virgil was called the Tigers’ first black player, though, in actuality, he was their first Latino: He was Dominican.

Virgil played his first game at Tiger Stadium on June 17, 1958, going 5-for-5 against the Washington Senators before a crowd of 30,000.

Ozzie Virgil poses at third base the day before his

Ozzie Virgil poses at third base the day before his Briggs Stadium debut on June 17, 1958 when he batted 5 for 5.

“The fans gave me a standing ovation,” he recalled to the Free Press’ John Lowe in 2008. He said that first game in Detroit – in which he batted second and played third base – is one of his favorite baseball memories.

Virgil had actually made his Tigers debut for the team earlier that month in an away game, on June 6.

The Tigers were the second to last team to integrate, before only the Boston Red Sox. Virgil’s debut came 11 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.

Virgil was shipped by the Tigers to the Kansas City Athletics in August 1961. Over a nine-year career, Virgil hit .231 with 14 homers and 73 RBI.

Sources :

Dan Austin, “The day the Detroit Tigers gave up their color barrier“, Detroit Free Press, January 28, 2015.


1959 : Detroit Integrates Police Patrol Car Crews
Jan 28 all-day

On January 28, 1959, Detroit police patrol car crews were racially integrated for the first time.

Source : Detroit Historical Society of Michigan

1979 : Muhammad Ali Visits Central Michigan University
Jan 28 all-day

Muhammed Ali Signs Autographs at Central Michigan University

January 28, 1979, three-time heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali came to Mount Pleasant to speak to a crowd of about 2,000 at Rose Arena on the Central Michigan University campus. Those in attendance who hoped to hear Ali tell of his greatest fights against Liston and Frazier, or Foreman and Spinks were in for something more than the boisterous oration Ali used in and around the ring. The champ certainly spoke about boxing, but he spoke more about motivation, success, his faith, and working to make the world a better place for all of its citizens. The 37-year-old Ali, who had regained the heavyweight championship just four months prior, mentioned projects he would tackle after his boxing career was over. His plans included starting an organization to bring equality to people across the globe. This organization, World Organization of Rights, Liberty, and Dignity, was founded by Ali in 1985.

Source : Clarke Historical Society News and Notes, January 28, 2014.

2013 : Michigan State Superintendent Says Math and Science Teachers Should Make $100,000
Jan 28 all-day

To encourage more scientists and mathematicians into the field of education, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan today called for teachers in Michigan to make $100,000-plus salaries.

For more information, see “Superintendent Flanagan Says Teachers Should Be Making $100,000 Salaries”, Michigan Newswire, January 28, 2013.

Bonus : Michael P. Flanagan served as State Superintendent in Michigan from 2005 to July 2015. Flanagan chaired the State Board of Education and was the Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Department of Education. Michigan’s State Superintendent advises the State Board of Education, the Governor, and the state Legislature regarding public education in Michigan

2014 : University of Michigan Cancels All Classes
Jan 28 all-day

The University of Michigan has canceled classes due to weather for the first time since 1978. The closure does not affect the U-M Health System, university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said in an email to reporters.

Due to the forecast calling for dangerously low wind chills, the university canceled all classes for Tuesday around 6:30 p.m. Monday night.

Also closed were University of Michigan-Flint, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Oakland University, Eastern Michigan University, and Wayne State University. Michigan State University did not close.

For the full article, see David Jesse, “U-M cancels Tuesday classes due to cold, a first since 1978”, Detroit Free Press, January 27, 2014.

2015 : Lugnuts Establish Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame
Jan 28 all-day

Tom Dickson was shocked upon discovering last year there was nothing established to honor the tradition of baseball in Michigan.

The Lansing Lugnuts owner decided to change that.



The Lugnuts announced Wednesday the establishment of the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame during a press conference at Cooley Law School Stadium.

The Hall of Fame will be similar to Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. The plaques of the inductees will be on permanent display beyond the wall in left-center field of the renovated Cooley Law School Stadium, which will feature a new 360-degree walkway around the stadium this season.

The Hall of Fame will officially open Saturday, June 27, which is when the inaugural class will be inducted.

The inaugural class will have 10 inductees that will be determined by a nine-member committee of baseball experts that includes Detroit Tigers broadcaster Mario Impemba, longtime Tigers scout Clyde Weir, former Tigers radio broadcaster Paul Carey, longtime area baseball coach Jake Boss Sr., MSU grad and Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster Joe Block, local sports anchors Fred Heumann and Tim Staudt, MHSAA assistant director Mark Uyl and former Michigan baseball coach Rich Maloney.

For the full article, see Brian Callaway, “Lugnuts establish Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame”, Lansing State Journal, January 28, 2015.

Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, “Building a Hall of Fame from Scratch“, Ballpark Digest, January 29, 2015.

1912 : Martha Griffiths Born
Jan 29 all-day

Martha Edna Wright was born in Pierce City, Missouri, on January 29, 1912. Her father, Charles Elbridge Wright, was a rural mail carrier. Her mother, Nelle, served as a substitute carrier from the time that America entered World War I. Martha also had a brother, Edward.

University Years (1930-1940)

Martha attended the University of Missouri, where she met fellow student Hicks Griffiths (born in Amsterdam, New York on July 9, 1910). The two were married on December 28, 1933. They graduated from the University the following year.

Hicks convinced Martha to go to law school with him. Harvard University accepted Hicks, but not Martha, as they wouldn’t accept women. The couple decided to attend the University of Michigan Law School together instead. They both received their Juris Doctorates there in 1940. They then relocated to Detroit, where they worked as attorneys for American Automobile Insurance Company.

Martha Griffiths and President Harry S. Truman, circa 1950s

Martha Griffiths and President Harry S. Truman, circa 1950s

World War II and Early Post-War Era (1941-1954)

During World War II, Martha worked as a contract negotiator for the U.S. Army’s Detroit Ordinance District. Meanwhile, Hicks served as Chief Price Attorney for the U.S. Office of Price Administration. After the war, Martha ran for State Representative but lost. That same year (1946), she and Hicks formed their own law firm: Griffiths and Griffiths. G. Mennen Williams joined this firm in 1947. In 1948, Williams ran for Governor while Martha again ran for State Representative. Both won. Martha remained in the State Legislature until 1953. She left when Governor Williams appointed her a judge of the Detroit Recorder’s Court.

U.S. Congresswoman (1955-1975)

HomeLook › A Long and Distinguished Career
A Long and Distinguished Career

In 1954, Martha Griffiths was elected U.S. Representative of the 17th Congressional District of Michigan. Her term began in 1955, and she remained in the U.S. House for twenty years. Committees on which she served include Ways and Means, Banking and Currency, Government Operations, the Committee on Crime, the Committee on the Budget, and the Joint Economic Committee. She also served as Chairwoman of the Joint Economic Subcommittee on Fiscal Policy. She chaired the Joint Economic Committee hearing on the modern pension system and led an important study on welfare. The study produced a multi-volume work that would be researched and cited for years to come.

Griffiths was also a notable champion of women’s rights. She successfully argued to include anti-gender discrimination language in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. She also sponsored the Equal Rights Amendment and worked to pass it through Congress (Although passed by Congress, it failed to be ratified by the required number of states.).

Michigan Supreme Court Justice G. Mennen Williams administers the oath of office to Martha Griffiths during her second inauguration as Michigan's lieutenant governor.  Her husband, Hicks Griffiths, stands between her and Justice Williams.  Michigan Governor James Blanchard is seated in the lower left of the photo.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice G. Mennen Williams administers the oath of office to Martha Griffiths during her inauguration for a second term as Michigan’s lieutenant governor. Her husband, Hicks Griffiths, stands between her and Justice Williams. Michigan Governor James Blanchard is seated in the lower left of the photo.

Post-Congressional Years (1975-2003)

Griffiths retired from Congress in 1975. She then served on the boards of several corporations, including AAA of Michigan, Burroughs, Chrysler, Consumers Power, Greyhound, K-Mart and Verex. In 1982, she was elected Lieutenant Governor to Michigan Governor James Blanchard. As Lieutenant Governor, she chaired the Michigan Equal Employment and Business Opportunity Council (MEEBOC) and served as Chief Affirmative Action Officer. After two terms, Governor Blanchard informed Griffiths that she wouldn’t be his running mate in the 1990 election. Blanchard lost, and many felt that his decision to drop Griffiths from the ticket was a factor.

Martha Griffiths passed away on April 22, 2003. Her husband, Hicks, preceded her in death in 1996. The couple had no children.

Martha Griffiths Papers

Martha Griffiths donated personal papers to the Archives of Michigan. They include general correspondence, Christmas and birthday cards, transcribed speeches, biographical material, guest registers, scrapbooks, a diary, oral history interview transcripts and photographs. Click Guide to Martha Griffiths Papers to view a finding aid to the collection.


Reposted from Seeking Michigan, March 31, 2015