Editor’s Note: Daisy Elliott’s legacy will endure
Daisy Elliott, 98, died late last month, but her legacy lives on in the form of Michigan’s civil rights law, which bears her name.
The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, passed in 1976, was a landmark law for the state — and Elliott was the main force behind it, according to Mel Larsen, who served in the Legislature with Elliott. The law demands equal rights, and makes it illegal to discriminate based on an individual's race, religion, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status or marital status.
Elliott, who was black and a Democrat from Detroit, believed in bipartisanship, so she got Larsen, a Republican, to cosponsor her legislation.
After reading the legislation, modeled after the federal law, Larsen decided to get involved, even though it could have backfired on him politically. He thought it was the right thing to do and Elliott was convincing, Larsen told me in 2014 when he was advocating for the Legislature to include sexual orientation in the law.
Lawmakers failed to do so, but the fight to expand the law Elliott and Larsen created continues.
“Daisy Elliott dedicated her life to fighting for equality,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement. “She showed tremendous leadership during challenging times, tirelessly working to end discrimination.”
She deserves that praise.