The Michigan Historical Museum and Lansing Principal Shopping District today announced the names of the 12 inaugural inductees to the Michigan Walk of Fame. The 2006 inductees include Jeff Daniels, Herbert Henry Dow, Thomas Edison, President Gerald Ford, Henry Ford, E. Genevieve Gillette, Ernie Harwell, W.K. Kellogg, Rosa Parks, Fannie Richards, Helen Thomas and Stevie Wonder.
Representing the state’s civic and talent-rich heritage, these Michiganians will be inducted into the Michigan Walk of Fame at a tribute celebration at the Michigan Historical Center on Thursday, May 25. Each inductee will also be honored with an 18” x 30” bronze plaque embedded in the sidewalks of downtown Lansing, the state’s capital city. Each plaque will feature a star containing the inductee’s name and a description of his or her achievements.
“The Michigan Walk of Fame was created to honor state residents, past and present who have made significant contributions to the state, nation or the world,” said Kevin Green, executive director of Lansing Principal Shopping District. “The Michigan Walk of Fame is the nation’s first statewide ‘walk’ honoring citizen achievements.”
“It’s no secret that Michigan has produced some of the world’s most industrious thinkers, inspiring entertainers and compassionate leaders,” said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. “This first group of inductees is a fine start to our Michigan Walk of Fame, and the perfect way to showcase our best and brightest.”
The Michigan Walk of Fame inductees were selected from more than 450 nominees submitted by residents of all 83 Michigan counties throughout fall 2005. Nominations were also received from 15 other states. The judging process was conducted statewide via the Internet utilizing the talent and expertise of historians, business, civic and community leaders in the respective Michigan Walk of Fame categories. Nominations can be submitted for consideration in 2007 at www.michiganwalkoffame.com.
The Michigan Walk of Fame is a strategic partnership between the Lansing Principal Shopping District (PSD), the Michigan Historical Museum and the City of Lansing. The walk will be funded through individual and corporate sponsorships. Downtown Lansing Inc., the PSD’s 501(c)3 agency, is coordinating the project’s fund-raising efforts. The Michigan Walk of Fame will require no public funding. Individual contributions can be made to the Michigan Walk of Fame at www.michiganwalkoffame.com.
The Michigan Historical Center is part of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. Dedicated to strengthening the economy and enriching the quality of life for Michigan residents by providing access to information, preserving and promoting Michigan’s heritage and fostering cultural creativity, the department also includes the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, the Library of Michigan, the Michigan Film Office and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/hal.
Brief biographies of the 2006 Michigan Walk of Fame inductees (by category) follow:
Agriculture, Business & Industry
Henry Ford, Dearborn (1863-1947): An automobile and manufacturing pioneer, Ford created “a motor car for the great multitude” and helped transform American rural and urban life. He revolutionized mass production with innovations like the moving assembly line and $5-a-day wages. Ford created the Ford Foundation to advance human achievement and the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village to preserve our American experience and heritage.
Will Keith Kellogg, Battle Creek (1860-1951): A cereal and manufacturing pioneer,
W.K. Kellogg changed American diets and eating habits by displacing our traditional hot breakfast with a tasty, nutritious and convenient breakfast food – the cornflake. Perfecting the flaking of cooked grains, Kellogg Company is today the world’s largest cereal producer. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which Kellogg established in 1929, is one of the nation’s major philanthropic institutions.
Arts & Entertainment
Jeff Daniels, Chelsea (b.1955): Daniels has received national critical acclaim for both his comedic and dramatic acting in film and theater. He launched his career by winning a 1982 OBIE Award for his performance in the one-man, off-Broadway play “Johnny Got His Gun.” He is also a director, playwright and entrepreneur. Remaining Michigan-based, in 1991 Daniels created the Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea, his hometown. His mission is to “serve the Midwestern culture by producing plays about people from the Midwest.” Daniels accomplishes this by seeking and developing new and emerging plays, playwrights, actors, designers, directors and administrators.
Stevie Wonder, Saginaw and Detroit (b.1950): Stevie Wonder is one of the most prolific artists in music history, delivering 35 U.S. albums with sales totaling over 72 million units; 30 Top Ten hits; 11 No.1 pop singles; 19 Grammy Awards, plus a Lifetime Achievement Grammy. He is a Kennedy Center Honors recipient, and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Composers Hall of Fame, among others. Working for social and political change, Wonder championed the effort to create the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday.
Athletics and Recreation
E. Genevieve Gillette, Lansing (1898-1986): Known as the “Mother” of Michigan’s State Park system, Gillette was the only woman graduate in the first landscape architecture class of 1920 at Michigan Agricultural College, now Michigan State University. Beginning in 1924, she generated public support and raised funding for more than 200,000 acres of Michigan’s state and national parks. Founder and president of the Michigan Parks Association, she was appointed to serve on President Lyndon Johnson’s President’s Advisory Committee on Recreation and Natural Beauty, and helped to secure federal funds for Michigan’s state park system.
Ernie Harwell, Detroit (b. 1918): Known as the “voice of Detroit Tiger baseball” Harwell was the first active broadcaster inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, is a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient of the Michigan Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and was elected to seven other Halls of Fame, including the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. He has authored several books and his 1955 essay “The Game for All America” is considered a baseball literature classic. Harwell is listed in the Guinness Book of Records having broadcast more games than any other announcer – over 8,000 baseball games.
Civic & Community Leadership
Gerald R. Ford, Grand Rapids (b.1913): As America’s 38th president from 1974 to 1977, Gerald R. Ford held the distinction of being the “leader of the free world.” Raised in Grand Rapids, Ford served the city and Kent County in the United States House of Representatives from 1949 until 1974 when he became Richard Nixon’s vice president. A member of the Warren Commission, Ford also served as the House Minority Leader, and saw active duty in the South Pacific with the U.S. Navy during World War II. A gifted athlete and scholar, Ford is a University of Michigan graduate.
Rosa Parks, Detroit (1913-2005): Rosa Parks is an icon of the modern Civil Rights movement for refusing to give up her Montgomery, Ala., bus seat to a white passenger in December 1955. That defiant act began a movement that ended legal segregation in America. Unemployable in the South, Parks moved to and adopted Detroit as her home in 1957. Involved in social causes throughout her life, Parks received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Congressional Gold Medal. She was the first woman in American history to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, an honor traditionally reserved for American presidents.
Education & Literature
Fannie Richards, Detroit (1840-1922): Pioneering educator Fannie Richards was Detroit’s first black public school teacher. Richards helped initiate a fight for educational equality that led to a landmark 1871 Michigan Supreme Court decision abolishing segregation in the Detroit public schools. Afterward, Richards taught the city’s first kindergarten class at the newly integrated Everett Elementary School. Richards also founded the Phyllis Wheatley Home for Colored Ladies to serve the elderly and poor and is a member of the Michigan Woman’s Hall of Fame.
Helen Thomas, Detroit (b.1920): Referred to as “The First Lady of the Press,” former White House Bureau Chief Helen Thomas has reported on every president since John F. Kennedy. Cited as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in America by the World Almanac, Thomas covered federal government, FBI and Capitol Hill news stories before being assigned to President-elect John F. Kennedy in 1960. Thomas was the only female print journalist to accompany President Nixon on his breakthrough trip to China in 1972. An author and newspaper columnist, Thomas is a Wayne State University graduate and member of the Michigan Woman’s Hall of Fame.
Medicine, Science & Technology
Thomas Edison, Port Huron (1847-1931): A technological genius, Thomas Edison earned patents for more than 1,000 inventions, including the phonograph, motion-picture projector and a safe and economical incandescent electric light that led to today’s modern electric utility industry. An inquisitive child, Edison set up a chemistry lab in his Port Huron home; his adult work focused on producing practical devices that satisfied real needs.
Herbert Henry Dow, Midland (1866-1930): Chemical pioneer H.H. Dow registered more than 100 patents during his lifetime. Credited with many American chemical firsts, Dow developed methods of extracting bromine, magnesium and iodine from brine. Today, virtually all metallic magnesium is produced by a Dow process. Dow also produced the first synthetic indigo dye in the U.S. and built the Dow Chemical Company into a world leader in chemical technology.