Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

U of M celebrates athlete Willis Ward, who was benched for his race in the 1930s

By: - January 17, 2022

Willis Ward, one of the University of Michigan’s greatest athletes, wasn’t dejected when racism and injury prevented him from showcasing his Great Depression-era talent. He was perhaps best known for being benched during a 1934 football game against Georgia Tech because the opposing coach refused to play a game with an African American on the […]

On this day in 1886: Black abolitionist shares Underground Railroad strategy

By: - January 17, 2022

On Jan. 17, 1886, Black abolitionist William Lambert revealed that he was part of a secret order called, “African American Mysteries: Order of the Men of Oppression.”  He made the declaration in a Detroit Tribune newspaper article. Lambert and others used codes, passwords and secret handshakes to help slaves gain freedom along the Underground Railroad, […]

Study: Black, Latino drivers more likely to be searched and arrested after traffic stops

By: - January 13, 2022

An independent study commissioned by the Michigan State Police (MSP) released on Wednesday found racial and ethnic disparities in traffic stops conducted by its troopers in 2020. Black and Latino drivers were significantly more likely than white motorists to be searched or arrested after traffic stops, according to the study. Conversely, Asian drivers were significantly […]

On this day in 1993: Michigan House elects bipartisan co-speakers

By: - January 13, 2022

On Jan.13, 1993, state Reps. Curtis Hertel (D-Detroit) and Paul Hillegonds (R-Holland) were unanimously elected co-speakers of the Michigan House. They represented constituencies on opposite sides of the state and didn’t know each other very well. “Shared power required the building of relationships,” Hillegonds told the Advance on Wednesday. “It was an amazingly productive period.”  […]

On this day in 1863: Emancipation Proclamation celebration held in Detroit 

By: - January 6, 2022

On Jan. 6, 1863, a celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation took place at Second Baptist Church in Detroit, the first African-American congregation established in Michigan. It included “speeches by white and black Negroes,” according to Detroit Free Press reporting.  Some sang:  “Old Abe Lincoln is the man for me, Old Abe Lincoln is the man […]

With Lawrence’s retirement, will Michigan have a Black member of Congress in 2023? 

By: - January 5, 2022

After U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield), Michigan’s only Black congressional member, sent political shockwaves throughout the state Tuesday night by announcing she would not seek a fifth term on Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), a native Detroiter and daughter of Palestinan immigrants, announced Wednesday she’s running in the new 12th District.  “This year […]

First gentleman has COVID-19, Whitmer tests negative but is isolating

By: and - January 5, 2022

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is isolating herself after first gentleman Marc Mallory tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday and is experiencing symptoms. Whitmer tested negative in a rapid test, but is awaiting results of a subsequent PCR test. “Like so many families around the country, the governor and her husband took extra precautions to limit contact […]

On this day in 1933: Michigan governor buys booze after Prohibition era ends 

By: - December 30, 2021

On Dec. 30, 1933, Gov. William Comstock, a Detroit Democrat, celebrated the repeal of Prohibition by buying the first bottle of whiskey sold afterward. It was a very different time in America. A gallon of gas for an automobile was about 10 cents a gallon; a loaf of bread averaged at 7 cents and a […]

Site of Detroit’s first Black-owned bookstore secures federal preservation grant

By: - December 22, 2021

The site of a Detroit bookstore that was owned and operated by a former state House member for nearly 40 years has been identified by the National Park Service (NPS) for a $15,000 grant designed to preserve history in underrepresented communities. Vaughn’s Bookstore was owned by Ed Vaughn, who operated it between 1959 and the […]

On this day in 1978: State drinking age is raised to 21

By: - December 22, 2021

On Dec. 22, 1978, Michigan’s drinking age was raised to age 21.  It came as a result of a constitutional amendment approved by state voters in the November general election who were concerned about drinking and driving by high school students. The measure passed by a 57 to 43% clip. Proposal D, a state Constitutional […]

Whitmer signs $1.5B business incentive plan alongside GOP leaders

By: and - December 20, 2021

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday signed a bipartisan set of bills creating new business incentives aimed at attracting jobs from companies like General Motors that flew through the Legislature in its final days of the year. The signing for the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) package was held at Wayne County Community College District’s […]

On this day in 1948: High court affirms Michigan ban on women bartenders  

By: - December 20, 2021

On Dec. 20, 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ban on female bartenders in Michigan. Goesaert v. Cleary was a case in which the high court upheld a Michigan law prohibiting women from being licensed as a bartender in all cities having a population of 50,000 or more unless their father or husband owned […]