Michigan Civil Rights Leaders Mark the Passing of Attorney General Frank Kelley

Contact: Vicki Levengood levengoodv@michigan.gov

March 6, 2021

LANSING, MI—James E. White, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, and Stacie Clayton, Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, have issued the following statements on the passing of former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley.

Stacie Clayton, Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission:

"Today we join with many others who are mourning the passing of Frank Kelley, the People's Attorney General. Some of his legal crusades are legendary and are still remarked upon decades later. Unknown to many is how Kelley pursued equality in his own office and gave Black and female lawyers opportunities they never had before. Kelley sought out strong women, like Maxine Boord Virtue, who became the first head of the new Consumer Protection Division he founded. We remember these acts and others as important parts of Frank Kelley’s legacy of service to the people of Michigan."

James E. White, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights: "Frank Kelley is recognized as a champion of consumer protection and environmental protection. But he also took on civil rights issues, putting an end to racially restrictive real estate practices. At a time when justice for African Americans who were victims of crime was hard to find, Frank Kelley prosecuted a controversial case involving a white gang and the senseless killing of Grady Little, an African American man. Though he ultimately lost the case, he won the respect of many, including Detroit’s Black community, by demonstrating he was the Attorney General for all people, regardless of race. At a time when unbiased enforcement of the law meant he would likely make powerful enemies, Attorney General Kelley did the right thing anyway. We mourn the passing of the 'eternal general,' a giant in Michigan political history."

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution to safeguard constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, genetic information, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights serves as the operational arm of the Commission.

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