As Black History Month comes to a close, U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin (MI-07) honored 10 Michiganders from the 7th Congressional District, including one from Howell, as trailblazers, both past and present, each with a distinct legacy.
“Their stories span the geographical breadth of the district as well as the depth of our nation’s history: from Civil War heroes and escaped slaves, to modern singers and scholars. All of them should be celebrated, and all of them called Michigan home,” Slotkin said from the House floor Monday night.
Among those she honored was Abraham Losford, the first Black resident of Howell, whom she called a “brave man who escaped slavery and used the trade he learned while captive to build a life of freedom for his family and for generations to come.”
In 1849, Losford fled enslavement in Kentucky where he was a plantation barber and came north with nothing but his clippers. Despite being captured, he escaped again, and after Emancipation, returned to free his children, Benjamin and Sally with plans to travel to Lansing and open a barber shop. But when Losford stopped in Howell to change stagecoaches, he was convinced to stay in the small town.
“The people of Howell promised to keep him safe if he would stay and open up a barber
shop, which they sorely needed,” Slotkin said. “It was a deal both sides would forever uphold. Losford and his barber business both thrived in Howell, and he became a successful, respected businessman in the predominantly white community–no small feat for a former slave in the years following the end of the Civil War.”
Losford died in 1897 and is buried in Lakeview Cemetery in downtown Howell. His obituary states that quote, “His presence, as well as his open, manly character, was a living reminder of the sin of slavery. Many winters will come and go before the name of ‘Old Uncle Abe’ is forgotten in the community.”
“Mr. Speaker, I ask that his name and his accomplishments live forever in our hearts and minds,” said Slotkin.
Other individuals she honored and the communities in the 7th district where they lived or worked are listed below, with links to their respective Congressional Record Statement:
• Alexander Johnson, Owosso
• Hiram Archer, Olivet
• Dr. Eva Evans, Lansing
• Clifton Wharton, Jr., East Lansing
• Larry Carter, Lansing
• Barbara Lewis, South Lyon
• Carrie Owens, Okemos
• Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Lansing
• Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown, East Lansing
Rep. Slotkin’s remarks can be viewed HERE, beginning one hour and seven minutes into the clip.
On Monday, Slotkin announced that she would seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated when Debbie Stabenow retires at the end of her current term next year.