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3rd Annual Michigan Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (MBC-LEO) Fundraiser

The third Annual Michigan Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (MBC-LEO) dinner in Lansing was attended by elected officials from Madison Heights, Southfield, Muskegon, Muskegon Heights, Kentwood and Saginaw.  State Representative Robert Dean addressed the group and talked of his experience of moving from a position of city councilmember to a state representative.  On the night before the event, Dean received the Walter Bergman Award from the NAACP which recognizes those who strive for freedom and equality.

The presentation was a homecoming for Dean.  As a former member of Grand Rapids city council and the MML board, he remembered the initial talks of starting the affiliate group for African-American officials.  He saw this as being very important and was therefore thrilled when asked to present at the event. 
Representative Dean is the 85th black representative in the state of Michigan; he said this number shows that there is more work to be done by African-American officials.  Dean said that his grandfather is a former slave and he stands proudly on his shoulders.  Representative Dean was on the Grand Rapids school board for 6 years before deciding to run for city commission in 1999.  After 7 years as a commissioner he wanted to do more.  He resigned as city commissioner in 2006 to campaign for the State House of Representatives.

Dean informed the elected officials in attendance that if they wanted to run for office they need to have their personal life in order, be able to pace themselves, get plenty of rest, set aside personal time for themselves, and enjoy life and people.  He also warned them not to let their ego get in the way. 

Donna Littlejohn, executive director of Muskegon Family Care (MFC), also addressed the group.  She talked about health disparities that affect African Americans disproportionately such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma and HIV.  The Family Care Center, like many other similar community health centers around the state, addresses concerns that some private practice physicians will not address, especially if the patient is uninsured.  MFC serves individuals regardless of their ability to pay.  The organization has 139 employees and serves more than 19,000 patients who require quality medical care.  MBC-LEO president Clara Shepherd also serves as president of MFC.  Donna said there are similar health centers across the state and she encouraged councilmembers to inform their citizens of community health centers in their areas.  Spreading that information could conceivably reduce the $18 million wasted annually on avoidable emergency room visits.

The fundraiser dinner concluded with the decision to hold the fourth annual (2008) fundraiser dinner in Saginaw, Michigan where MBC-LEO will continue to bring officials together to share ideas and develop solutions that will help build better communities, thus creating a better Michigan.


MBC-LEO, c/o Michigan Municipal League, 1675 Green Road Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Phone: 800-653-2483, FAX: 734-662-8083