Michigan House elects Rep. Joe Tate as first Black speaker

In addition to making history as House speaker, Tate also becomes the first Black person to preside over either of Michigan's legislative chambers.

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The Michigan House of Representatives is getting its first Black speaker.

According to WILX News, Rep. Joe Tate made Wolverine State history on Thursday when fellow lawmakers chose him to serve as speaker of the House for the 2023–24 legislative session.

Michigan Live reported that Tate, from Detroit, is also the first Black member to preside over either of Michigan’s legislative chambers. He won 73 percent of the vote in the Second House District when he first sought public office in 2018. After new state House district maps were drawn, he was reelected Tuesday to represent the 10th District, nabbing just over 68 percent of the vote. 

Michigan Rep. Joe Tate, who was reelected Tuesday to the state’s House of Representatives, was chosen Thursday to serve as the House speaker for Michigan’s 2023-24 legislative term, making history. (Photo: Eric Seals via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

“First and foremost, we’re going to get started immediately,” Tate said Thursday after his fellow Democrats voted, Michigan Live reported. “I think you saw the message that we talked about, our values, over the campaign trail for most of the year. … So, there won’t be any surprises, because we’ve been talking about Democratic values for years.”

According to the Michigan House Democrats website, Tate decided to run for office due to a commitment to public service. It noted that he learned the importance of giving back from his parents, a Detroit firefighter and a teacher at the city’s public schools.

The former Marine played two years in the NFL before joining the military, and he also served his native city as program manager for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

“I am proud to serve alongside my esteemed colleagues as speaker of the House,” said Tate, according to WILX. “Together, we will shape sound policy that positively impacts our state and generates opportunities for all Michiganders to reach their full potential. I am confident that we are destined to do great works in the days before us.”

Tate sits on the House Military and Veterans Affairs and State Police Committee, as well as its Health and Human Services Committee and Appropriations Committee, where he serves as the Democratic vice chair.

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