Duly Noted

Michigan Department of Civil Rights launches 50th anniversary

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC) and the Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) launched their 50th anniversary celebration in Lansing on Tuesday.

Department and Commission leaders held a press conference to detail anniversary plans followed by a celebration at the newly-opened Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum on the campus of Michigan State University. 

“50 years ago Michigan set a new standard for civil rights protections, becoming the first state to create a Civil Rights Commission in its Constitution,” said Dr. Daniel H. Krichbaum, MDCR Director. “The Commission and the Department work each day to live up to that legacy and ensure that every person can live, work and play free from discrimination.”
On April 1, 1963, Michigan voters approved a new Constitution - the first Constitution in the United States to create a Civil Rights Commission charged with securing equal protection without discrimination.  The next year, MDCR opened its doors as the staff support for the Commission’s activities.

Here is a brief timeline:
October 3, 1961 - 144 delegates gather at the Lansing Civic Center and begin debate over a new constitution

August 1, 1962 - Delegates approve a draft constitution which includes the creation of an eight-member Civil Rights Commission, the first constitutionally created commission in the country

April 1, 1963 - Voters approve the new Constitution

January 1, 1964 - The new Constitution takes effect

January 3, 1964 - The newly-created and appointed Michigan Civil  Rights     Commission meets for the first me with cochairs John     Feikens and Damon J. Keith

“Despite the upheaval going on throughout the nation at the time, the leaders who came together at the Constitutional Convention made a clear statement that Michigan is committed to protecting the rights of all people, no matter their race, religion or ethnicity,” said Krichbaum.  “And in the years since, Michigan has made an even stronger commitment to protect against discrimination based on gender, age and disability.” 

To mark the 50th anniversary of the creation of the MCRC, current Commissioners and MDCR staff will take to the road in a year-long tour visiting communities across the state.  City visits will showcase MDCR services and provide an opportunity for department staff to meet with community leaders and citizens on a wide range of topics.  A schedule of events will be posted for the 50 city tour at www.michigan.gov/mdcr. Grand Rapids, Holland, Kalamazoo and Muskegon are included on the list.