Senate Democrats uplifted protections in Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act this year through legislative action 

On December 13, Sen. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) was awarded the Michigan Civil Rights Commission’s (MCRC) Elliott-Larsen Award for Public Service Leadership for her advocacy of the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act. Her efforts over several years led to its passage — expanding the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) and banning race-based hair discrimination in the state of Michigan. 

Held at Heritage Hall in the state capitol, attendees were served a hearty, delicious breakfast while the MCRC highlighted Sen. Anthony’s ELCRA-related advocacy work.

“I am honored to receive the Elliott-Larsen Award for Public Service Leadership — our civil rights are sacred because they safeguard the dignity and freedom of all people in our state,” said Sen. Anthony. “I am proud to have worked on several pieces of legislation this year that aim to protect and uplift marginalized communities in our state — including the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, which was signed into law earlier this year. While the fight for equality is far from over, the work we have done this year will have a positive impact on Michiganders for years to come.” 

Background of CROWN Act  

Longtime organizer Adjoa Asamoah spearheaded the CROWN Act by developing its legislative strategy after co-creating the CROWN Coalition. This prolific work led to New York and California becoming the first states in 2019 to pass the CROWN Act. Since then, the act has seen immense advancement in more than 20 states — including Michigan. 

In fact, Anthony first introduced the CROWN Act in the House in 2019 and then introduced it again in 2021. Finally, in 2023, the act was passed through the Senate with significant bipartisan support and officially signed into law in June 2023. This made Michigan the 23rd state to pass the CROWN Act. 

For Sen. Anthony, this triumph is meaningful as she endured a lack of support over the last four years when advocating for CROWN Act legislation. Therefore, the MCRC’s recognition of her hard work and dedication to uplifting marginalized communities is monumental. It represents one of the many triumphant steps taken toward increasing equity in the Capitol and across the state of Michigan.  

Sen. Anthony, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II signing the CROWN Act alongside stakeholders at Moneyball Sportswear in Lansing.

Other ELCRA-Related Legislation Signed into Law 

At the beginning of the legislative session, policies and initiatives were laid out to advance the priorities of the #MajorityForThePeople. A few of those items on the legislative agenda were landmark amendments to ELCRA, which were signed into law: Senate Bill 4 and Senate 147. These bills ensure sexual orientation and gender identity or expression are also included as protections under ELCRA and remove certain references to nontherapeutic abortions under the act as well.

All this shows Michigan Senate Democrats honoring their commitment to help create a state — and a world — that addresses systemic discrimination and works to overcome its effects day by day, bill by bill.

Read more from the Michigan Senate Democrats at