Initiated in 2013, the University of Michigan Detroiter Hall of Fame honors the distinguished career achievements of Detroit natives who have graduated from the U-M and made recognized national or global contributions to their fields.
Charles Gilchrist Adams graduated with honors from the University of Michigan and Harvard University and went on to become a doctoral fellow in Union Theological Seminary in New York City. From 1962 to 1969, Dr. Adams served as Pastor of historic Concord Baptist Church in Boston, followed by an appointment as the Pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit. He served as President of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP in 1984 and was elected to its Executive Board in 1986, 1988, 1990 and 1992. Dr. Adams has been awarded twelve honorary doctorates from colleges and universities across the country; has spoken before the United Nations (on South African Apartheid); and has received the coveted “Rabbi Marvin Katzenstein Award” from the Harvard Divinity School. A prolific writer, Dr. Adams has published locally and nationally in scholarly journals, daily and weekly newspapers. He has had many sermons published as well as his work Power in the Pulpit, in which Dr. Adams describes how he prepares, writes and delivers his sermons. He has held the positions of Professor of Preaching, Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Detroit, MI, 2000 to 2007 and William and Lucille Nickerson Professor of the Practice of Ethics and Ministry, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA., July, 2007 to June, 2012. Dr. Adams’ board affiliations include the Baptist World Alliance, the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches, the Congress of National Black Churches, Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA) and Morris College (Sumpter, SC). He is married to Agnes Hadley Adams and is the father of Tara Adams Washington, MD and the Rev. Charles Christian Adams.
Tonya Allen serves as The Skillman Foundation’s President and Chief Executive Officer. Her two-decade long career has centered on pursuing, executing and investing in ideas that improve her hometown of Detroit and reduce the plight of the underserved people, especially children. Allen has been instrumental in many successful philanthropic, government and community initiatives and has a comprehensive understanding of philanthropic governance and strategy. Allen was named to Crain’s Detroit Business 40 under 40 list, received the national Brick Award given to activists under age 30 by Rolling Stone Magazine, and was one of the first Detroiters to receive the prestigious Marshall Memorial Fellowship. She was named a Detroit News Michiganian of the Year in 2015, and one of the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s “5 nonprofit innovators to watch” in 2013. Tonya Allen graduated from Cass Technical High School (1990). At the University of Michigan, she earned her B.A. (1994) and dual master’s degrees in Social Work and Public Health (1996).
A native of Detroit, Judge Paul D. Borman is a graduate of Mumford High School. He received a B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1959. He earned a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1962 and an LL.M from Yale Law School in 1964. Borman was a staff attorney on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1962 to 1963. He was also an Assistant U.S. attorney from 1964 to 1965 and later acted as vice-president and house counsel for Borman Food Stores, Inc. On August 9, 1994, the Senate confirmed him as a federal judge for the Eastern District of Michigan where he served as Chief Federal Defender from 1979-1994. Judge Borman also served as a Professor at Wayne State University Law School from 1968 – 1979 and as an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Michigan Law School from 1979-1995. He is the co-author of the casebook “White Collar Crime: Law and Practice.”Among his honors, Borman was the recipient of the Jewish Federation’s Fred M. Butzel Award for Distinguished Community Service in 2007.
Dr. Larry Brilliant graduated from Detroit’s Mumford High School in 1961. After studying philosophy as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, he graduated with a medical degree from Wayne State University (1969). He returned to the University of Michigan to earn a Masters in Public Health (1977). He is recognized as a key player in the World Health Organization’s eradication of smallpox and has worked with the U.N. to combat blindness in the developing world. Among his numerous honors, the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health awarded him its “International Public Health Hero” Award (2004). Time magazine named him as one of the “20 Most Influential Scientists and Thinkers” and “One of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2008.” The University of California Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health gave him the “Global Health Champion” Award (2012).
Dr. Ben Carson graduated from Detroit’s Southwestern High School in 1969. After earning a degree in psychology from Yale University (1973), he graduated from the University of Michigan School of Medicine with a specialty in neurosurgery (1977). An internationally renowned physician, he is recognized as the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins. Along with three best-selling books, he has authored over 100 neurosurgical publications and has been awarded 38 honorary doctorate degrees and dozens of national merit citations. Among his numerous honors, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2008), the highest civilian award in the United States.
Bill Davidson graduated from Detroit’s Central High School in 1940. After serving in the U.S. Navy during WWII, he earned a B.A. in business administration at the University of Michigan 1940, followed by a law degree from Wayne State University (1949). His business acumen led him to be one of the richest men in the world, which provided him with the means to donate millions of dollars to charities and educational institutions. Also well known in the sports world, he became the first owner to win championships in three professional sports with the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, WNBA’s Detroit Shock and NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.
Gershwin A. Drain received his Juris Doctor in 1972 from the University of Michigan Law School. He began his law career as a law clerk in the Third Circuit Court of Michigan. Until 1986, Drain worked as an attorney in the Federal Defender Office in the Eastern District of Michigan, and served as a judge on the Recorder’s Court for Detroit from 1987 to 1997. He served as a judge on the Third Circuit Court of Michigan from 1997 to 2012, when President Obama nominated Drain for District Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. On August 2, 2012, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Drain 55-41, and he was commissioned on August 8, 2012. Drain is also a lifetime member of the NAACP since 1989 and was named “Michiganian of the Year” by the Detroit News in 1997.
Robin Givhan graduated from Detroit’s Renaissance High School as its 1982 Valedictorian. After studies at Princeton University, she earned a MA in Journalism from the University of Michigan in 1988. She became one of the most well-known fashion critics in the country in print and electronic media. In 2006, she was recognized as the first journalist to receive Pulitzer Prize for fashion criticism. In 2012, Time magazine named her to its distinguished list of “ALL-TIME 100 Fashion Icons.”
Carol Goss was born on October 21, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan. She attended University of Michigan on a Regent’s alumni scholarship and a Michigan Opportunity Award. She decided she wanted to be a social worker to help those in need, and earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in Sociology in 1969 and a Master’s in Social Work in 1972. After completing her Bachelor’s degree, Goss became a caseworker in the Department of Public Welfare of the City of Detroit, convinced she had chosen the right path.
From 1998 to 2013, Goss served as president & CEO of The Skillman Foundation, a private independent foundation whose mission is to improve the lives of children in metropolitan Detroit by strengthening schools and neighborhoods.
In 2011, Goss won City Year Detroit’s “Idealist in Action” award and Olivet College’s Leadership in Individual and Social Responsibility Award. The Detroit News named Goss a 2010 “Michiganian of the Year”, and in 2009, Grantmakers for Children, Youth & Families honored her with the 2009 Fred Rogers Leadership Award.
Saul Green is a native Detroiter and Mackenzie High School graduate. He earned his BA in Pre-Legal Studies at the University of Michigan in 1969 and his Law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1972. President Bill Clinton appointed Green to the position of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan in1994, a position he held through 2001. From2008-2011, Green served as the deputy mayor of the City of Detroit. Prior to and following his civic appointment, he served as a senior counsel member of Miller Canfield’s Criminal Defense Group and Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group. Over the course of his career, Green has specialized in high-profile litigation, white-collar crime and alternative dispute resolution. During his many years of public service, he has held the positions of Wayne County corporation counsel; chief counsel, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Detroit Field Office; and assistant U.S. attorney. In2009, he received the Dennis Archer Public Service Award, recognizing outstanding public service to metropolitan Detroit. Additionally, Green has received numerous honors including the State Bar of Michigan, 1999 Champion of Justice Award; Wolverine Bar Association, 1998 Damon J. Keith Community Spirit Award; State Bar Foundation, Fellow; and American Bar Foundation, Fellow.
In 1973, David Alan Grier graduated from Detroit’s Cass Technical High School. He earned a B.A. in Speech Communications from the University of Michigan (1978) and a MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama (1981). He won a Theatre World Award in 1982 for the titular role of Jackie Robinson. Honored as a three time Tony Award nominee for performances in Jackie Robinson (1982), Race (2010), and Porgy and Bess (2012). Versatile in drama, comedy and musicals, the distinguished actor has appeared in more than 100 theatre, television and film roles.
Carmen Harlan is an Emmy award-winning journalist anchoring WDIV-TV Local 4 newscasts. A graduate of Mumford High School in Detroit, Harlan earned a B.A. in Speech with training in radio and television from the University of Michigan in 1975.
After graduation, her career in journalism began at WWWW-FM radio before joining WDIV-TV Local 4 in 1978 as a general assignment reporter.Not long after that she was promoted to news anchor with legendary newsman Mort Crim. After Crim’s retirement, Harlan was partnered with anchorman Devin Scillian in 1995 when he joined the station.
Throughout her career, Harlan has not only anchored the news but also traveled the world reporting on some of the most notable stories of the day. Harlan covered the historic Michigan visit by Pope John Paul II in 1987; the legendary Detroit arrival of South African President Nelson Mandela in 1990; and, most memorably, the 2010 Haitian earthquake relief effort. She has also interviewed countless dignitaries, world, business, and religious leaders as well as entertainers.
In addition to her career endeavors, Harlan has devoted much of her time to various charitable organizations including: Operation Able; the Humane Society; the Children’s Center; Sparky Anderson’s CATCH; the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit and Karmanos Cancer Institute.
Cornelius Langston Henderson was born in Detroit on 1888, and became the second African American to earn an engineering degree from the University of Michigan in 1911.In 1929, Henderson revolutionized the engineering field with the construction of the first all-welded-steel factory, the General Electric building in Peterborough, Canada. Henderson contributed his engineering expertise and knowledge of architectural design to two of the greatest Great Lakes Regions projects: the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. Henderson was responsible for the structural steel design of the 1929 Ambassador Bridge, and the massive steel tubes of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.
Henderson was actively engaged in civil rights for African American Detroiters. During the 1920s the majority of African Americans in Detroit were struggling for adequate housing, health care, wages, jobs, and equal treatment from white business owners.
Prior to 1925, African Americans in Detroit suffered unspeakable indignities because of the white-operated cemeteries. In 1925, Henderson helped found Memorial Park in Warren Michigan, the first African-American owned and operated cemetery in Michigan. Henderson designed and platted the acreage, including the road system and grave arrangements. He died in July 18, 1976, and is buried at the cemetery he designed.
Detroit native Stephen Henderson is a graduate of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School. In 1992, he graduated from the University of Michigan. Since January 2009, he has been Editorial Page Editor for the Detroit Free Press. Prior to that, he was a reporter, editorial writer and editor at the Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Lexington Herald Leader and Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau, where he covered the U.S. Supreme Court from 2003-2007. Henderson’s work has garnered more than a dozen national awards, most recently, journalism’s highest honor, the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. Henderson hosts a weekly talk show, “American Black Journal,” and co-hosts the weekly news wrap up show “MiWeek,” both on Detroit Public Television.
James Phillip Hoffa graduated from Detroit’s Cooley High School in 1959. After receiving a B.A. in economics from Michigan State University (1963), he earned a law degree from the University of Michigan (1966). After building a reputation as a labor lawyer with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, he assumed the position as the influential union’s General President in 1999. In this leadership role, he is recognized as one of the most prominent authorities of union issues, government trade policies, and other matters affecting working people. In 2000, he received an honorary doctor of law degree from the Michigan State University-Detroit College of Law.
Isabella Karle graduated from Detroit’s Denby High School in 1937. By 1944, she earned a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. with a specialty in physical science at the University of Michigan. During her long and distinguished career at the Naval Research Laboratory, she made pioneering contributions in determining the three-dimensional structure of molecules and wrote over 250 scientific articles. Among her numerous prestigious honors, she received the Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science, Francis P. Garvan–John M. Olin Medal, Hillebrand Prize of the Chemical Society of Washington, WISE Lifetime Achievement Award, Gregori Aminoff Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and National Medal of Science.
Born and raised in Detroit, Dwayne McDuffie graduated from the Roeper School (1980) before earning a B.A. in English (1983) and M.S. in physics (1985) from the University of Michigan. After studying film at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, he established himself in the comics industry as a writer who sought to culturally diversify the pantheon of superheroes. He was best known for creating the Dakotaverse and the iconic African American Superhero Static with the company he co-founded, Milestone Media. In addition, he served as head writer on the popular DC Animated Universe shows, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Among his honors, he received the Humanitas Prize (2003) for an episode of Static Shock about gun violence. In 2011, he was posthumously named as a co-recipient of the Writers Guild of America, West Animation Writers Caucus’ (AWC) 14th Annual Animation Writing Award, recognizing his outstanding contributions to the craft of animation writing.
Daniel Okrent is an American writer, editor and media expert. In 2004, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history for his work on Last Call, Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center.
Okrent’s 40-year career has encompassed nearly every form of mass media. In book publishing, he was an editor at Knopf, Viking, and Harcourt. In magazines, he founded the award-winning New England Monthly, and was chief editor of the monthly Life. In newspapers, he was the first public editor of the New York Times. On television, he has appeared as an expert commentator on the Ken Burns PBS series Baseball.
Daniel Okrent has served on multiple boards, including the Authors Guild, Skyscraper Museum, and the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, where he was the chairman from 2003-2008. During the 2009-2010 academic year, Okrent was the Edward R. Murrow Visiting Lecturer on Press, Politics, and Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. In the 1999-2000 academic year, he was the Hearst Foundation Visiting Fellow in New Media at the Columbia University School of Journalism.
In addition to being an accomplished writer, editor and media expert, Daniel is credited for inventing Rotisserie League Baseball otherwise known as fantasy baseball in 1979 while dining with friends at the La Rotisserie restaurant in New York.
In 2000, Daniel Okrent and Glen Waggoner were inducted into the Fantasy Hall of Fame and named the Founding Fathers of Rotisseries Baseball.
Daniel graduated from Cass Technical High School (1965) and earned his B.A. from the College of Literature Science and Arts from University of Michigan (1969).
Marge Piercy graduated from Detroit’s Mackenzie High School in 1953. She earned a B.A. from the University of Michigan (1957) and a M.A. in from Northwestern University (1958). Among the works of this prolific best-selling author are Woman on the Edge of Time (1976), The Moon is Always Female (1980), Gone to Soldiers (1987), and Body of Glass (1991). Acclaimed for her feminist writings, her many prestigious honors include the Hopwood Award, Arthur C. Clarke Award, Carolyn Kizer Poetry Prize, May Sarton Award, and Patterson Poetry Prize.
Dudley Randall is best known as a poet, publisher, editor and founder of Broadside Press.
It was during the civil rights years that Randall’s writings began to appear in print on a regular basis. In 1963, Randall’s most prominent poem, Ballad of Birmingham, was published on the front page of Correspondence. and ultimately changed Randall’s life. Upon the request of a folk singer Jerry Moore, Randall’s poem, Dressed All in Pink became lyrics for several of Moore’s songs. To protect his copyrights as an author, Randall printed the poems as Broadsides.
Subsequently, Randall began publishing the Broadside Series, including poems by other black poets under the title, Poetry of the Negro Revolt. In 1966, Randall expanded his publishing efforts to books, with the publication of Poem Counter-poem and in 1967 with, For Malcolm X: Poems on the Life and Death of Malcolm X.
Broadside Press quickly became the most productive and influential publishing house for black poetry. Broadside published anthologies, series, and individual collections by up and coming poets, such as Etheridge Knight, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, and Don L. Lee (Haki Madhubuti). Additionally, established poets, such as Sterling Brown, Margaret Walker, Naomi Long Madgett, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Pinkie Gordon Lane all drew interest from Broadside Press.
From 1965 to 1975, Randall’s Broadside Press published 93 book titles, and printed a half million books that were distributed throughout the world.
In 1987, Randall retired from Broadside Press, and in 1990, was honored at the Broadside PressTwenty-Fifth Anniversary celebration. In 1997 Randall was also honored by the Chrysler Corporation Fund, which donated an endowed scholarship in his honor to Wayne State University.
Randall graduated from Eastern High School (1930). He earned a B.A. in English from Wayne State University (1949), and went on to complete his Master’s in Library Science from the University of Michigan (1951). In 1981, Mayor Coleman A. Young named Randall as Detroit’s poet laureate.
A native of Detroit and Mumford High School graduate, Pamela Rodgers earned a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan in 1980 and MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in 1983.
Rodgers began her career at Ford Motor Company as a financial analyst in its car product development division and later graduated from the Ford Dealership Development Program. In 1996, after several years of managing the General Motors Flat Rock dealership, this location was merged with the Woodhaven store and re-named Rodgers Chevrolet.
As a pioneer for African American women in automotive business ownership, Rodgers dealership grew from 40 units per month to 180 in 1996, generating $37 million in revenue. By the year 2001, Rogers Chevrolet sales more than doubled to $80 million in revenue.
In addition to her automotive business, Pamela Rodgers is Chair of the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce and serves as a board member for the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Cranbrook Museum of Art, and Alternative for Girls.
Rodgers has also been named to Crain’s Detroit Business’ Top Influential List from 2005-2007; Essence magazine’s 10 Top Black Female Entrepreneurs in 1999; and Black Enterprise magazine’s 100 Black Automotive Dealerships from 1997-2007.
Born in Detroit, Robert Shiller graduated with a B.A. in economics from the University of Michigan (1967) and earned a PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1972). Recognized for his pioneering research in the field of financial economics, he received the William F. Butler Award from the New York Association for Business Economics, Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Prize in Innovative Quantitative Applications, Deutsche Bank Prize in Financial Economics, and the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. A best-selling author, his acclaimed books include Irrational Exuberance (2000), Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why this Matters for Global Capitalism (with George Akerlof; 2009) and Finance and the Good Society (2012).
Prior to her appointment to the Court of Appeals in 2008, Judge Stephens served as Judge of the Third Circuit Court and the 36th District Court. An Emory Law School graduate, Judge Stephens has been admitted to practice in Georgia, Texas, and Michigan. She was the Vice-Chair of the Wayne County Charter Commission, Associate General Counsel to the Michigan Senate, Regional Director for the National Conference of Black Lawyers-Atlanta office, and consultant to the National League of Cities Veterans Discharge Upgrade Project. She has served as adjunct faculty at Wayne State University Law School, the Detroit College of Law and the University of Detroit Mercy School Of Law and Emory University’s Kessler-Eidson Advocacy Program. Her other legal educational efforts include teaching at the National Judicial College and the African Center of Legal Excellence and authorship of several articles on subject ranging from judicial selection to international human rights. She has been active in bar work including 16 years as a Commissioner of the State Bar of Michigan. She was awarded the State Bar of Michigan’s highest honor, the Roberts P. Hudson Award, in 2005. She is the co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee. Judge Stephens has also held leadership positions in the Association of Black Judges of Michigan and the National Bar Association. She serves on the board of the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Court. She has also served on numerous civic boards including , New Detroit, the Inner City Business Improvement Forum, the Detroit Metropolitan Association Board of Trustees for the United Church of Christ, and the Girl Scouts. She is also a life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Most recently she was reappointed as a Judge of the Court of Claims in May 2017.
Thomas Tolan graduated from Detroit’s Cass Technical High School in 1927. Before earning a B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1931, he attracted national attention in 1929 when he set a record in the 100-yard dash (9.5 seconds) and tied the record of 10.4 seconds in the 100-meter dash. At the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, he set an Olympic record in the 100 meter with a world record 10.3 seconds and also won the 200 meter race. Nicknamed the “Black Express,” he was the only double winner in the games that year and the first African American athlete to win Olympic gold medals. He was inducted posthumously into the University of Michigan Hall of Honor (1980).