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Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission on the Passing of Judge Avern Cohn
February 07, 2022
Lansing, MI—Portia Roberson, Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, has issed the following statement on the passing of Judge Avern Cohn. Cohn served on the Commision from 1972 to 1975, and was elected Chair in 1974.
"Avern Cohn was an icon of Michigan jurisprudence. He led the Michigan Civil Rights Commission during a tumultuous time of racial reckoning when leaders like Judge Cohn embraced the core principles of the civil rights movement and fought to see them reflected in policy and practice."
"In his time as in ours, disparities in education were a paramount concern. During his tenure, the Commission issued a scathing report on segregation in Michigan schools. Judge Cohn confronted the intransigence in state government to remedying the problem, saying, “Evidence in our study indicates they have done more to oppose desegregation than to aid it.” He also was a vocal and persistent advocate for comprehensive legislation to protect people with disabilities from discrimination. We send our deepest condolences to his family and to the many people he influenced throughout his life of service."
The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution to safeguard constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, genetic information, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights serves as the operational arm of the Commission.
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