By Jessica Mathews /

The lives and legacies of Black leaders and prominent organizations in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District were recognized recently in commemoration of Black History Month.

Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin delivered remarks recently in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol, which will be entered into the Congressional Record to ensure the memory and legacy of those leaders and other groups live on.

Slotkin said it was her honor to share the stories of George Jewett of Howell (pictured), Lulu Childers of Howell (pictured), and Thelma Lett of Brighton and to give a permanent home to that truth in the public record of the United States House of Representatives.

Slotkin described Jewett as “a legend of the gridiron, a physician, and an entrepreneur who blazed a trail through the history of both football and race relations, breaking barriers and records at every turn, including a forward pass through Howell, Michigan. Intelligent, driven, and athletically blessed, George was a classic all-American, and he was also an African-American at a time when Jim Crow was tightening its grip on the country”.

Slotkin described Childers as one of the city’s Black pioneers who made incredible contributions to the musical history and history of Howell. She said “This remarkable woman was ultimately responsible for developing the small music program at Howard University in Washington, D.C., first into a Conservatory of Music, and then into a School of Music. But before all that, she was a child in Howell, Michigan, the daughter of slaves, her parents brought her from Dry Ridge, Kentucky in 1875 at the age of five. It was in Howell that the public was first treated to the gift of Lulu’s voice. In the early 1880s, she performed regularly at the Howell Opera House and its neighboring Methodist Church on Walnut Street. By 17 she was singing at numerous fundraisers and events across the area and was billed as “Howell’s Lulu Childers”.

Slotkin said Lett’s is a story of a courageous Black woman from Brighton who would not sit down when faced with racism, hatred, and bigotry. She said Lett lived and died in Brighton and made it abundantly clear that her love for this country and all it stands for was far greater than the hatred she was shown. Slotkin said “Lett never backed down from her devotion to diversity, continuing her activism and community involvement until her death at age 79. In fact, if you visit the Detroit Impact Youth Center on the city’s west side, you’ll find the Thelma Lett Library inside, a tribute to the many young people she taught to read and write. And if you visit Howell, you’ll find the Livingston Diversity Council continuing her work, inspired by the courage of her convictions, and still standing up to intolerance and hate”.

Videos of Slotkin’s full remarks and the stories of each honoree are available in the attached press release.