“She Never Gave Up on This City:” Remembering Firebrand Detroit City Councilwoman Maryann Mahaffey



Labor and Urban Affairs archivist Shae Rafferty shares how Maryann Mahaffey’s college summer job as recreation director at the Poston Japanese internment camp in Arizona in 1945 strengthened her resolve to fight against discrimination and help those in need later in her career in social work. In Detroit, Mahaffey created a tenants’ council while program director at Detroit’s Brightmoor Community Center in the 1960s, and established the Detroit Mayor’s Task Force on Malnutrition and Hunger while also teaching in the School of Social Work at Wayne State University. Although she lost her first campaign for public office in 1970, she won a Michigan Supreme Court ruling affirming women’s right to use their maiden names when running for public office.

During her time on the Detroit City Council from 1973-2005, including many years as president, Mahaffey created the city’s first rape crisis unit within the police department, expanded the city’s healthcare benefits to include gay couples, chaired the Council’s Housing Task Force, opened the Detroit Athletic Club to women. Host Dan Golodner calls for a building to be named in her honor. The Maryann Mahaffey Papers are now open and available for research at the Reuther Library.

Related Collections
Maryann Mahaffey Papers
Detroit Public Library Burton Historical Collection

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewees: Shae Rafferty
Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, and Paul Neirink


One thought on ““She Never Gave Up on This City:” Remembering Firebrand Detroit City Councilwoman Maryann Mahaffey

  1. I worked on the first campaign for city council in 1973. I was a first year law student. I worked in the campaign office, went to class downtown and then came back for more.

    I have more pictures form election night and literature from that election year (including CAY’s first campaign for Mayor) are those things you might be interested in?

Leave a Reply

*