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THE RELIGION CORNER: Michigan’s Only HBCU Founder Honored with Highway Designation

On Aug. 25 at 11 a.m., there will be a memorial highway sign unveiling ceremony in Detroit to honor Dr. Violet T. Lewis, founder of Lewis College of Business, a nonprofit, historically Black institution.

Held at the College of Creative Studies Campus (207 E. Kirby St.), this event pays homage to Lewis’ more than 80 years of service to the city of Detroit. Lewis College of Business, designated as Michigan’s only HBCU, served tens of thousands of students over several generations.

State Sen. Marshall Bullock (D-Detroit) will be in attendance, as will former state Sen. Ian Conyers, who sponsored the bill during his time in office. The legislation was unanimously approved by the Senate and House of Representatives and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2018.

A portion of the John C. Lodge Freeway (M-10) in Detroit will be renamed Violet T. Lewis Memorial Highway, after the legendary educator. The Lewis portion of the well-traveled freeway that links downtown Detroit to 8 Mile Road, the city’s northern border, would consist of the section between Meyers Road and West Outer Drive.

The work of Lewis, who died in 1968 from cancer, lived on for several generations after her death, continued by her two daughters, President Dr. Marjorie Lewis Harris and Dean, Dr. Phyllis Lewis Ponders. The last president was her granddaughter Dr. Violet Ponders, who will be in attendance to represent the family.

In 1929, Lewis, an African American, founded the Lewis College of Business in Indiana. She began a second school in Detroit in 1939. The institution, primarily for women, was the only designated historically Black college in Michigan. It gave tens of thousands of women the opportunity for career development and advancement and included the establishment of two sororities — Gamma Phi Delta and Tau Gamma Delta.

Conyers’ interest in the college’s founder started as a child while growing up in the northwest Detroit neighborhood where the institution was located for many years. He first offered a Senate resolution honoring Lewis in March 2017.

“We started meeting people and realized that we wanted to do something more permanent to recognize her contribution,” Conyers stated.

Honored as an active business and civic leader as well, Lewis established the March of Dimes Extravaganza Committee in 1953. During her years at the helm, it raised almost $1 million for the March of Dimes Foundation. Lewis died in 1968.

“I recognize that in our country women are the head of many households,” said Conyers, who left the state Senate in an unsuccessful bid to succeed his great-uncle, former U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit). “And in the African-American community, many times, they are the only head of households. We wanted to celebrate that.”

This Friday, tune in to “The Lyndia Grant Show” to hear Sen. Conyers and Bobby Lawrence tell listeners all about this exciting project. It all happens on Radio One, Spirit 1340 WYCB Washington, at 6 p.m.

Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email lyndiagrantshowdc@gmail.com or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.

Lyndia Grant

A seasoned radio talk show host, national newspaper columnist, and major special events manager, Lyndia is a change agent. Those who experience hearing messages by this powerhouse speaker are changed forever!

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