Lansing school's first African American teacher honored

Posted at 8:11 AM, Oct 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-20 08:12:00-04

When she found out she'd been selected for the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame, Dr. Olivia Letts says she was very pleased.

"I've been around a long time, so I've been a part of a lot of things, but I think this probably tops the cake," Letts said.

She was the first African American hired to teach in the Lansing School District. Interim Executive Director of the Michigan Historical Center and Hall of Fame Caitlyn Perry Dial says she opened the door for other teachers of color.

"She helped integrate the Lansing schools, but then always opened her heart to others, she is a community giver, and she just overall is a really lovely woman, and she's well-loved by the city of Lansing and around the state of Michigan," Perry Dial said.

Letts says the school district always helped her rise to become a principal and then the Director of Elementary Education.

"I have been so blessed. People have just been with me and supported me all along the way, so I have good things to say about the Lansing Schools, they've been very good to me," Letts said.

But when asked what she's most proud of, Letts names a different legacy.

"I am most proud of my daughter, who is a successful lawyer in Chicago, and she has two children, so I have two grandchildren, and they both have graduated from college and have good jobs so those are the things I feel very blessed to have," Letts said.

Perry Dial says women who have championed civil rights, union rights, education, you name it, have been inducted into the hall.