Barbara-Rose Collins, Michigan’s first Black congresswoman, dies at 82

Barbara-Rose Collins served Detroit on the city's council, in the Michigan House and in Congress

Loading the player...

Barbara-Rose Collins, who represented Detroit in Congress and served on its City Council, has died after contracting COVID-19. She was 82.

Collins’ family confirmed her death Thursday to The Detroit Newsthe newspaper reported.

Christopher Collins, 51, said his mother died around 2 a.m. Thursday. She had been vaccinated against the coronavirus, but still fell ill and was hospitalized before her death, he said.

Barbara-Rose Collins prepares as the Detroit City Council meets after crafting a two-track path to ousting Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in Detroit, Mich., Tuesday, May 13, 2008. (Kathleen Galligan/Detroit Free Press via AP)

“She lived her whole life in the same neighborhood, same house she was born in, on the lower east side,” he added. “That says a lot about a person.”

Barbara-Rose Collins, a Democrat, was elected to the U.S. House in 1990 after eight years on the City Council. She was defeated for reelection to Congress in 1996 by Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick.

She was elected again to the council in 2001 and served until 2009 when she did not seek reelection.

In 1974, Collins was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives where she served three terms.

“You could get into a floor fight with her but she would then invite you to her house a few days later,” former Detroit Mayor and City Council President Ken Cockrel Jr. told The Detroit News. “She always understood that it was business and never personal.”

Collins was born in Detroit and graduated in 1957 from Cass Technical High School, according to her U.S. House biography.

She attended Wayne State University in Detroit, majoring in political science and anthropology.

Have you subscribed to theGrio podcasts, Dear Culture or Acting Up? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!

Loading the player...