African-American Political Power in Michigan [CHARTS]

Has representation in Michigan’s Legislature matched the African-American population in the state?

In the wake of violence in Newark and Detroit during July 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson charged his Commission on Civil Disorders with answering three questions: What happened? Why did it happen? What can be done to prevent it from happening again?

The answer came officially in the “Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders” published in 1968. Among its 600-plus pages were dozens of reasons reflecting discrimination, inequality and ignorance.

Power — or the lack of it — is cited as one of the factors contributing to conditions that led to the riots of 1967. As part of WDET’s work with the Detroit Journalism Cooperative’s “The Intersection” project, we looked at political power, specifically whether African-American representation in the state Legislature has mirrored the black population in Michigan.

WDET’s Sandra Svoboda joins Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson to review what we found in this latest “Detroit By The Numbers” piece:


Graphics by Melissa Mason.