‘Everything a first’ for Michigan’s lieutenant governor

Black History Month

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — One of Michigan’s highest-ranking elected officials is making history daily.

On Jan. 1, 2019, Garlin Gilchrist II was sworn in as the first African American to be lieutenant governor in Michigan.

He is also the first African American to be president of the state Senate and, as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pointed out in her 2020 State of the State address, last year became the first African American lieutenant governor to sign bills into law.

“In a position like this, I know that kind of everything I do is a first,” Gilchrist told News 8 with a laugh. 

The 37-year-old Detroit native takes his historic accomplishment in stride while always keeping in mind the unique responsibilities he bears.

“I think it’s about making leadership actually real, that you can actually go and shake hands, that person will come and listen to you,” he said, “and I think that’s part of being a role model as a public servant.”

So how does he think the milestones may impact future generations?  

“I think that children in my children’s generation will see it as normal for leadership to be as diverse as the state,” Gilchrist said. “They will see it as not even interesting that we will have people who look like them in elected office or appointed office, and so I actually hope that this anomaly wears off very quickly.”

That may be, but the firsts just keep coming. Gilchrist became perhaps the first ever lieutenant governor to join in support of a resolution in the Senate last week when he added his name to the motion to recognize February as Black History Month in Michigan.

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