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On this day in 1917: Legendary Michigan lawmaker Jackie Vaughn is born 


On this day in 1917: Legendary Michigan lawmaker Jackie Vaughn is born 

Nov 17, 2023 | 5:56 am ET
By Ken Coleman
On this day in 1917: Legendary Michigan lawmaker Jackie Vaughn is born聽
Jackie Vaughn in 1963. | Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University

On Nov. 17, 1917, former Michigan Sen. Jackie Vaughn III (D-Detroit) was born in Birmingham, Ala. 

Vaughn moved to Detroit during the 1940s, a decade during which the Motor City’s African-American population doubled from 149,000 in 1940 and 300,000 in 1950.

As a member of the Detroit NAACP Young Adult Committee during the 1950s and ‘60s, Vaughn helped to push back against racial discrimination in housing and employment discrimination. He was elected as a nominee for Detroit Common Council in 1963, but lost the race to Philip Van Antwerp in a special election.    

Vaughn’s service in the Michigan House of Representatives began after his election in 1968; he was later elected to the Michigan Senate in 1978. He later ascended to the role of pro tempore and was the first African American in state history to do so.  

MLK’s historic Detroit Walk to Freedom march is remembered 60 years later 

On June 23, 1963, more than 125,000 people marched with Martin Luther King Jr. down Woodward Avenue in Detroit in an effort to promote civil rights. 

In the 1970s, Vaughn led the way in urging Michigan to adopt King’s birthday as a holiday. Michigan was one of the first states to recognize it. 

The longtime member of Detroit’s Hartford Memorial Baptist Church also was known for his community service, which included presenting testimonial resolutions to constituents. 

Former state Sen. Buzz Thomas (D-Detroit) was elected to represent Vaughn’s state Senate district after he was term-limited. Thomas told the Advance on Thursday that he greatly respected Vaughn.  

“For me, it was a privilege to directly represent the district that Sen. Vaughn represented in the Michigan Senate for so long when I was elected in 2002. I felt a tremendous responsibility to provide the same level of constituent service and community presence that Senator Vaughn did,” Thomas said. 

Vaughn died in 2006. A resolution honoring his life was unanimously adopted by the Legislature that year.

“Over the course of his 36 years of commitment as a lawmaker, this gentleman was a tireless voice for young people, civil rights, and justice in our state,” the resolution said. “We extend our condolences to the many people throughout Michigan who were touched by his life and work.”