“Opponents tried to tell me who I was and why I would not win. I replied to them that ‘I may be poor, and I am African American, and I am a woman, and I am going to win this election.’ So think carefully about who you are.”
Politician, social activist, author. Executive Director of the Equal Justice Council, 1968. First African American to serve on the Detroit City Council, 1972. Elected President of the Detroit City Council by fellow members in 1977, serving 12 years in that role. As councilwoman, she lobbied for equal rights, especially targeting discriminatory loan and insurance practices, called redlining, in which minority recipients were given less favorable rates, terms and conditions. In 1975 she organized the Michigan Statewide Coalition Against Redlining, which led to comprehensive state legislation that outlawed the practice.
Photo 1. Erma Henderson announces her run for Mayor in 1989 (photographer John Collier). Photo 2.Down Through The Years: The Memoirs of Detroit City Council President Emeritus Erma Henderson, 2004