Grady J. Porter: First African American elected in Ingham County government

In downtown Lansing, the GRADY PORTER building that houses the Ingham County Circuit Courts and county offices is named for a history-making public servant with a consistent voice for improving the world around him.

Grady Porter was born in Carrollton, Georgia in 1914.  Grady made his way north to Lansing in 1936 where his lived with his older brothers.   

Like many Americans, he was drafted into the Army in 1941 and a year later, Grady was promoted to Staff Sargent In-Charge of Personnel and Special Services.  Grady’s work in the Seventh Army included support for the skillful truck convoy known as the Red Ball Express who moved supplies and ammunition over treacherous roads and in dangerous conditions. The Red Ball Express was reported to have 75% African American drivers. 

Grady’s musical talent spilled into his tour of duty in January 1943 where he and members of the Sgt. Porter and the Four Commandos opened for Josephine Baker in North Africa and also sang at the Casablanca Conference for an audience that included President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and other political leaders.

In 1968, he made local history by becoming the first African American elected to a position in the Ingham County government. He served as Ingham County Commissioner (also known as the Board of Supervisors).   

In 2003, the Lansing City Council unanimously passed a resolution declaring Monday, February 24th as Grady J. Porter day in the City of Lansing

It has been said that cities are great because of its citizens, and in Lansing we salute the powerful portrait of Grady Porter in this history moment.  

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