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Ann Arbor post office branch may soon be named after the nation's first African American Poet Laureate

Robert Hayden
University of Michigan College of Literature, Science and the Arts
Robert Hayden

A post office branch in Ann Arbor may soon have a new name. As the nation marks Black History Month, there are bills before the U.S. Senate that would see the branch renamed for a prominent and influential Ann Arborite.

Robert Hayden broke a number of barriers in his life. He first moved to Ann Arbor in 1941 and earned his Master of Arts degree from the University of Michigan. In 1969, he became the first Black faculty member in the U of M’s English department.

His works included nine collections of poetry and a number of essays and other literary offerings. In 1978, he was named the nation's first African American Poet Laureate.

While Hayden passed away in 1980, his works continue to inspire today.

The measures would also honor Lt. Colonel Alexander Jefferson by renaming a post office branch in Mount Clemens in his name. Jefferson was one of the nation’s first African American military pilots and was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Michigan Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow introduced the bills, which have passed out of committee with bipartisan support and now await a vote by the full Senate.

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Taylor Bowie joined WEMU as a reporter in October 2023.
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