Inducted into the Michigan Walk of Fame on May 25, 2006, Fannie Richards is believed to be Detroit's first black public school teacher. Born in Virginia about 1840, she moved to Detroit as a young woman. In 1863, she opened a private school for black children, and began her 50-year career as a Detroit public school teacher in 1865. In 1869 Richards helped initiate the fight for educational equality that led to a landmark 1869 Michigan Supreme Court decision abolishing segregation in the Detroit public schools. In 1872, Richards taught the city's first kindergarten class at the newly integrated Everett Elementary School. She retired in 1915.
Along with other women from Detroit's Second Baptist Church, Richards established the Phillis Wheatley Home for Colored Ladies to shelter the elderly poor. She was also active in the Detroit Study Club and served as president of the Michigan Federation of Colored Women's Clubs.