Barbara-Rose Collins, the first Black woman from Michigan to be elected to Congress, was laid to rest over the weekend after she contracted COVID-19 and died at age 82.
Collins, a native Detroiter, attended Wayne State University off and on between spring 1957 and fall 1989.
WSU President M. Roy Wilson said, “We are proud to have had such a trailblazer and icon as part of the Wayne State family.”
Director of Community Affairs Stacie Clayton’s first position after graduating from Wayne State was in Collins’ Detroit City Council office.
“She was a mentor and helped me become the professional I am today,” said Clayton. “Her life and work will continue to inspire young women of color to see themselves in positions of power and influence and to seek elected office in Detroit and beyond. Our thoughts are with her family and the people of Detroit."
Collins’ political career lasted almost 50 years. It began with a 1971 run for a seat on the Detroit Board of Education, and included positions held in the state House of Representatives and Detroit's City Council before her election to Congress in 1990.
During her time in Washington, D.C., Collins was appointed the majority whip-at-large. Her accomplishments included legislation on sexual harassment laws, equal pensions for women and helped to bring the Neighborhood Enterprise Zones to Detroit.