50 Years of MDCR: Stories of Civil Rights in Michigan

50 Years of MDCR: Stories of Civil Rights in Michigangallowaycollens1

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept. 21, 2014)


Fifty years ago, The Michigan Department of Civil Rights was created as part of the new State Constitution adopted in 1963. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The MDCR celebrated their successes and contemplated the future with a Civil sidebar01sponsorRights Symposium at Wayne State University Law School’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights on Sept. 19, 2014.

“I believe strongly that this symposium, with leaders from the worlds of public policy, academia, the media, the judiciary coming together to examine the civil rights challenges of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, is a fitting way to celebrate this commission’s 50 years of existence,” said Arthur Horwitz, Chair of the MCRC. “The 73 individuals who have shouldered this responsibility were always looking to the future, exploring ways to put an end to discrimination and bias, and never resting for long on any single accomplishment.”

The event was full of panel discussions on various Civil Rights topics, bringing in many activists, including former MDCR Commissioners. The Honorable Mel Larsen, one of the original authors of Michigan’s landmark civil rights legislation, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, was on hand to moderate one of the panels, and the keynote speaker was Chris King, managing editor of the St. Louis American, one of the oldest and most nicholas-schrock-allstaterespected black newspapers in the country. King and the American have been an essential media outlet covering the events following the shooting of Chris Brown in Ferguson, MO.

Each speaker brought with them a unique perspective about why awareness of Civil Rights is an ongoing, fundamental issue for all people. There are people struggling for funding, access and acceptance for those with disabilities. There is ongoing systemic racism that manifests differently for black, Jim Shaffer KELLER ad blackHispanic, Jewish, Middle Eastern, and other communities. LGBT people have a growing voice in Civil Rights discussions as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and allies fight for nondiscrimination protections. And Michiganders still struggle with gender and socioeconomic inequality.

The theme of the MDOC 50 Year celebration is “only fair is fair.” Their work continues in doing all they can to bring balance and justice to the world.

Over the next couple of weeks, the Oakland County 115 News Hub will share video and stories from the symposium in our series: 50 Years of MDOC.

Learn more about the MDOC at http://www.michigan.gov/mdcr.

Learn more about the Keith Center at http://keithcenter.wayne.edu/.

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