By Bria Brown

LANSING, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer unveiled the new sign for downtown Lansing’s Elliott-Larsen Building.

This comes after Whitmer signed an executive order rename the state-owned Lewis Cass Building to the “Elliott-Larsen Building” this past June.

The new name honors former Republican State Rep. Melvin Larsen and former Democratic State Rep. Daisy Elliott, who sponsored Michigan’s landmark civil rights act in 1976. The governor was joined by Rep. Melvin Larsen and Badriyyah Sabree, granddaughter of Daisy Elliott at the sign unveiling Monday.

This change marks the first time in Michigan history that a state building is named after a Black woman.

“This new name honors the work of Daisy Elliott and Melvin Larsen who, 44 years ago, outlined in law the vision of the more just, equitable Michigan that we continue to strive for even today,” said Whitmer. “Moving forward, we must continue to honor those who have worked to build a stronger Michigan for everyone, regardless of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Of course, our work to expand civil rights in Michigan is not done. It’s time for the legislature to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to protect members of the LGBTQ+ community and make Michigan a state where more people want to move to for opportunity.”

“It’s wonderful for me and my family to receive this honor from Governor Whitmer and her administration,” said former State Rep. Mel Larsen. “Considering the history of civil rights in Michigan and all that has been fought for over the years, its important to ensure the future of our state reflects the civil rights values that we all hold to be true. I give special thanks to Daisy Elliott for initiating the idea of legislation all those years ago. The Civil Rights Act is as important today as it was when it was adopted in 1976.”

“The family of Daisy Elliott thanks Governor Whitmer for recognizing the importance of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act and for recognizing Daisy Elliott’s contribution to the state of Michigan and its citizens,” said Badriyyah Sabree, granddaughter of Daisy Elliott. “We hope that the citizens of this great state will join us in honoring Daisy by keeping the fight for justice and equity alive until justice and equity is a reality for all people.”

In 1976, the people of Michigan, led by Daisy Elliott, a former Democratic member of the Michigan House of Representatives, and Melvin Larsen, a former Republican member of the Michigan House of Representatives, passed Public Act 453, known as the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

The act declared that the right to be free from discrimination is a civil right and expanded constitutional protections to a broader class of individuals.

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