During Black History Month, Michigan Senate Democrats honored and commemorated the contributions of those within the African diaspora. From attending community-wide events and celebrating history-making moments within our State Capitol, Black history is alive and well.

Sen. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) — the first Black woman Senate Appropriations Chair — kickstarted Black History Month by making history of her own at her portrait unveiling event. Alongside community members, colleagues from both sides of the aisle, and loved ones, she was able to publicly speak about how representation brings forth equity and more diversity. This year, in her capacity as Senate Appropriations Chair, she plans to prioritize housing and educational access in the 2025 state budget.  

Sen. Sarah Anthony stands alongside her new portrait that will hang in the State Capitol. Photo Credit: Jessica Case, Michigan Senate Democrats.

Additionally, Sen. Anthony also recognized Black violinist Melissa White for winning a Grammy Award for Best Classical Compendium for the Harlem Quartet’s recent album “Passion for Bach and Coltrane.” In doing this, Sen. Anthony acknowledged the importance of Black artists in classical music and across various other genres.  


As part of this month’s celebration, Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) attended the 41st GIANT Awards in Grand Rapids. The GIANT Awards were created in 1983 by Dr. Patricia Pulliam and Cedric Ward to recognize African Americans who are exceptional leaders who have shaped the history, quality of life, and the culture of our West Michigan communities, the “giants” whose shoulders today’s residents stand on. Leader Brinks’ West Michigan colleague, Rep. Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids), received the William Glenn Trailblazer Award. She is the first African American woman to ever represent Grand Rapids in the state House of Representatives. 

Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) watches as Rep. Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids) receives the William Glenn Trailblazer Award at the 41st GIANT Awards.

Sen. Erika Geiss was there at the portrait unveiling to support her colleague Sen. Anthony.

This year’s national Black History Month theme is African Americans and the Arts. Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), Chair of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, spoke on the Senate floor to observe the contributions of Motown artists, stating that “Motown artists were not just breaking sound barriers; they were part of the social fabric of this nation giving both respite from some of its traumas, but also giving voice to them.”  

Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Dearborn) also provided remarks during Senate this month to recognize the late Dr. Kaine Onwuzulike — a Black adult and pediatric surgeon and assistant professor of pediatric neurological surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. In 2019, he became widely known for being part of the surgical team that conducted the first in-utero — while in the womb — fetal surgery in the region. His contributions to the Detroit area as a medical professional are extensive and his legacy lives on. 

Sen. Santana speaks on the Senate floor.

Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City) attended a Black history celebration event hosted by Victorious Believers Ministries of Saginaw (see photo below). Michigan Supreme Court Justice Kyra Harris Bolden — the first Black woman appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court — was also in attendance as well as other stakeholders from the Greater Saginaw community. 

Last Friday, Feb. 23, lawmakers, stakeholders and residents gathered at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History for the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus’s (MLBC) Black History Month celebration and reception. The event theme was “Progressing Legacy,” and included a fireside chat on the topic moderated by former Michigan Rep. Leslie Love and featuring Melanie Campbell, CEO of the National Black Women’s Roundtable, and Rev. Gerald Durley. The MLBC and its supporters are working to honor Black history and improve public policy by “acknowledging the past, acting in the present, and preparing for the future.” 

Sens. Chang, Geiss, McMorrow, Moss and Singh attended the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus’s annual Black History Month event. Photo Credit: Megan Dombrowski, Michigan Senate Democrats.

This is just a glimpse of the remarkable efforts Michigan Senate Democrats have taken during Black History Month. Thankfully, there is an ongoing commitment to championing diversity and equity through impactful budget victories and legislative initiatives — and there is so much more amazing work to do.  

Read more from the Michigan Senate Democrats at SenateDems.com/press.