Caroline French Club looks to establish Black women as a political force in Detroit

Member Cheryl P. Johnson says the group is focused on making sure Rep. Brenda Lawrence’s successor will be an African American woman.

Cheryl P. Johnson is a member of the Caroline French Club and the CEO of the Coalition on Temporary Shelter.


The Caroline French Club is a new group dedicated to the empowerment of Black women in Detroit politics.

The club gets its name from a woman who in 1833 risked her own life and freedom to help another Black woman who was arrested in Detroit after escaping enslavement in Kentucky.

Cheryl P. Johnson is a member of the group. She delves into the reason the club chose that name and discusses the type of support the Caroline French Club plans to provide their preferred candidates.

“Black women historically have been amazing leaders in communities, in churches and schools. But yet, when we look at the table, in Congress, in politics, and other seats, we don’t see that representation.” —Cheryl P. Johnson, Caroline French Club

“We are really laser focused right now on getting the seat that Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence will be leaving filled with an African American woman. Black women historically have been amazing leaders in communities, in churches and schools. But yet, when we look at the table, in Congress, in politics, and other seats, we don’t see that representation. And so our eyes really are focused on making sure that we get Black women in the political seats that they desire to be in and that their voices are heard.”

Are the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson — racist ways Republican senators treated her — an accurate snapshot of what African American women especially have to deal with on a daily basis, albeit on a bigger stage? Johnson says yes.

“Historically, we have been subjected to a questions that the average person would not be asked. We have been expected to perform beyond the things that others have been required. And so when you look at what’s happening, now, during these hearings, it is no surprise to anyone who’s been watching this for years, and for Black women in particular.”

Listen: Cheryl P. Johnson discusses Caroline French Club’s endorsement in the 13th Congressional District race.


Is this purely financial support? Is this kind of working behind the scenes and moving that political establishment around to better supports Black women?

It’s all of that. The women that are part of the Caroline French Club are not only amazing women in their own rights in the community around our sector here, but we asked for time, talent and treasure. With any campaign, the money has to show up. So we have a commitment from people that are in this club. Yes, we’re born to support. But beyond that, there’s everything from knocking on doors, canvassing all of that. Everyone has a place and a part.

Has the Caroline French Club made an endorsement for the 13th Congressional race?

The Caroline French Club has endorsed Portia Roberson. That is our candidate of choice. We went through a very rigorous process that included the entire club’s input. In fact, every Black woman that had put their hat in the ring at that particular time was asked to meet with us. And so we went through a series of interviews. The process went very smoothly and at the end, based on those interviews and conversations and deliberations, our particular of Caroline French Club has made a decision to support Portia Roberson.

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  • Russ McNamara
    Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.