DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The 13th floor auditorium of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center was officially dedicated Tuesday in the name of the first black woman elected to Detroit City Council.
Erma Henderson was a community activist and social worker who was first elected to Detroit City Council in 1972 and in 1977 she became Council President.
A civil rights advocate, Henderson pushed for blacks to be treated fairly in the workplace, criminal justice systems, restaurants and hotels. Henderson also worked as campaign manager for two black city council candidates in the 1940s and 1950s.
She organized the Michigan Statewide Coalition Against Redlining in 1975, which helped lead to a state law against the discriminatory lending and insurance practice.
Councilwoman JoAnn Watson conducted the ceremony to dedicate auditorium.
“Fighting for consumer affairs; fighting for open housing; fighting for the Nuisance Abatement Act so that people could move into homes, instead of having them stand abandoned … fighting for the people all over this world,” said Watson.
“There will never be another Erma L. Henderson and we will honor her memory in perpetuity,” she said.
Henderson unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 1989 against incumbent and political powerhouse Coleman A. Young.
She died in 2009 at the age of 92.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.