Michigan Taps First Black Woman to Oversee the Entire State’s Spending

by Xara Aziz
Office of Senator Sarah Anthony

Michigan just tapped the first Black woman to oversee the state’s spending.

Senator Sarah Anthony said she never saw herself becoming a politician. A Lansing native, she said she thought she would become a state government employee or a worker for General Motors, which is where her parents worked.

Now at 39, she is now serving her third term in Michigan’s legislature and became the first Black woman to lead the highly-esteemed appropriations committee. The committee has the power to oversee all state spending in the upper chamber.

“This was never, never on the bingo card ever,” Anthony told MLive. “This is all bonus.”

Anthony explained that she does not focus on her race and gender as it relates to her new position and is only wanted to be seen for her strong leadership skills.

“I’m never going to be, you know, the person who’s yelling and screaming,” Anthony said. “I don’t like the gamesmanship of politics. That doesn’t resonate with me.”

She does, though, take credit for gaining Republican support on a recently passed $82 billion budget, which includes an investment in diverse communities. A large part of it comes from “being a woman and being a Black woman. It has shaken up the institution a bit, and I’m OK with that.”

She further adds that her appointment may shake some up a bit, considering when you walk into her office on the Capitol, all of the portraits of past Appropriations chairs were older, white men.

“When I look at that wall of the men who have like, done this job before me, I know that they didn’t have the same level of community connection,” Anthony said. “Particularly like communities of color, they expect you to show up. They expect you to be present for the church service, and you don’t just show your face, you stay for the whole church service.”

Anthony was awarded a diploma from Everett High School on Lansing’s south side and holds degrees from Central Michigan and Western Michigan universities. Before her new role, she was Ingham County commissioner and deputy director of the Michigan College Access Network. She ran for the Senate and was elected in 2018.

Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, said there is no doubt in her mind Anthony was the perfect choice for the Appropriations chair.

“I’ve just been really impressed with her,” Brinks said. “She had all the right ingredients to be a fantastic Appropriations chair.”

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