Since before statehood in 1837, the people of Michigan have struggled to define and ensure the civil rights of fellow citizens. Michigan's civil rights history is interesting and complex. The state was sometimes in conflict with national laws as illustrated by court cases emanating from Underground Railroad activities and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. Michigan also blazed a desegregationist path leading the nation in legally abolishing segregation in public schools in 1869.

From Resistance to Rights will explore Michigan's role as a site of contestation between anti- and pro-slavery forces, Michigan as a microcosm of national and international forces of slavery and freedom, and the connections among 19th and 20th century dimensions of America's civil rights movement. Through detailed examination of this history, the site aims to advance our understanding of freedom and what citizens in a democratic society can do when they believe freedom is in jeopardy.

"Yes, we stopped with the Quakers on Young's Prairie [Michigan], about three miles from Cassopolis, and near Diamond Lakes. I stopped with John Sugard's brother, Zach Sugard, and then went to work for old Stephen Bogue. It was here that some 40 slave dealers swooped down on the fugitives early one morning and captured them." (Perry Sanford's escape story)
The story of Fannie Peck and the National Housewives League of America illustrates the efforts of African Americans to shape their economic world as consumers. How did African American women in Detroit and beyond improve the lives of their families and neighbors during the devastating years of the Depression? Find out more...