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Charles Diggs Jr.
*On this date in 1922, Charles Diggs Jr. was born. He was a Black politician.
From Detroit, Michigan, he was the son of an undertaker and respected father Charles Diggs Sr. in the Motor City area. Young Diggs attended Miller High School, the University of Michigan, Fisk University, and Wayne State University; earning a degree in Mortuary Services in 1946. He joined his father in the family mortuary business, and then won his father’s seat in the Michigan senate in 1951. Early on, Diggs was a strong voice for civil rights.
He attended the Emmett Tills murder trial as an observer and was diligent in awakening the conscience of the national Democratic Party. Part of this effort allowed the opening of a second Black-majority voting district in Michigan following the 1960 census. Diggs was the key player in organizing the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). However early in 1978, he faced charges of diverting $60,000 in office operating funds to pay his personal expenses. Though convicted of the charges he still won re-election that year.
Diggs appealed his conviction, was eventually censured by the House, and stripped of his committee memberships; he resigned his seat in 1980 after twenty-five years in Congress. He was sentenced to five years in prison and was released after serving seven months. Afterwards, Diggs opened a funeral home in Maryland and was indirectly involved in politics; he also earned a political science degree from Howard University.
Charles Diggs Jr. died of a stroke in August 1998 and was eulogized warmly by Black colleagues from across the country.
Black Americans In Congress 1870-1989.
Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese
U.S. Government Printing Office
Raymond W. Smock, historian and director 1990