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Diving into the Humphries Family Swim: Politics

Dedria Humphries Barker



I am a first-time political candidate. My race is Lansing City Charter Commission, in Michigan. The election is May 7th. Will you vote for me?


Politics is in the roots of my family tree, and so this foray into elective office politics is, in a way, a dive into the family business. I am a native of Detroit, born the third of 13 children. I have lived with the family I created in East Lansing, and Lansing, Michigan, since 1985.


In 1963, my mother, Mary Jane Leigh Humphries, started it all. She ran for Detroit Common Council, known today as the City Council. She was unsuccessful, but she continued to work in the campaigns of U.S. Rep. John Conyers. They grew up in the same west-side Detroit neighborhood.  She said that when she went to help stuff envelopes for mailings, the other people were amazed she could find time to volunteer when she had so many children. "I just laughed," my mom said. "I love politics."


My father, Andrew J. Humphries, My father was a gutsy guy. No only did he and my mother raise 13 children, he ran for mayor against Coleman Young. He might have run before that, but he was a Detroit police officer and police were no allowed to be political until the 1970s.


My brother, Derrick A. Humphries, Esq. , is a political strategist and legal counselor. He worked with Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Detroit City Council President Erma Henderson, political kingmaker Bob Millender and Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, Congressman Charles Diggs Jr. Derrick was legal and media counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus. He loves the behind the scenes action.


My sister, Marcia E. Evans, was elected a precinct delegate, and she is a campaign finance professional.  She is my campaign treasurer.


My sister, Paula G. Humphries, was elected, at age 32, to the 36th District Court in Detroit. She served 27 years. All of us got our start in politics campaigning for Geraldine Bledsoe Ford when she ran for judge. Ford and our father grew up together on Detroit’s north end.  It takes generations.


 My brother James N. Humphries, Esq., has been a lawyer for the City of Dearborn and Detroit Public Schools. He ran for Wayne County Circuit Court judge and Detroit City Council. 


My brother, Gregory B. Humphries got his start with Paula. He is a younger brother, number 11, and early on was the muscle getting out yard signs and other campaign literature, but then he became a star at managing campaigns, mostly judicial, and more recently state representatives. He is on the staff of Michigan state representative Helena Scott, of Detroit.


When you got a good thing going, why stop. The Humphries next generation finds two women -- my daughter and my niece -- doing the political.


Terri N.H. Barker got her start through Paula in the Lansing office of state Rep Wendell Byrd, Detroit. She was Policy Director/Chief of Staff. Int


Keyontay Humphries, is Chief of Staff for Detroit City Council President Pro Tempore James Tate, Jr. 


I started out behind the scenes, working as a communications aide to Rep. Charles Diggs Jr, in his Detroit office. 

 

My elective offices: first Faculty Senate at Lansing Community College. Actually, another faculty beat me by a couple of votes but then when he saw how much I wanted to serve, he gave me his seat.  That’s sort of like Barak Obama and Joe Biden, except they both campaigned hard for the presidency, and won the vote. Nobody gave it to them.


I was elected to the vestry at my church, All Saints Episcopal, East Lansing. There, the practice was to slate only one candidate for any one position because politicking wasn’t good for the church. Politics is competitive, and can be divisive, pitting people against each other, as we see in the way Donald Trump plays politics: winner takes all, God against all, and me first.


Back in the day, I was elected vice-president of my class at Chadsey High School, Detroit Public Schools. That was before I knew women could be the lead. In my high school mock elections, I was “elected” most likely to something or the other. 


I knew very little about real politics when I decided it was time to help out my community and the Charter Commission came up. 


My family is my inspiration. People find purpose in politics. They find a way to make life better for people living in community. Most people laugh and say, “That’s politics.” and make it sound like “That’s entertainment.” 


As a daughter of the Humphries family and a political candidate for six weeks, I can tell you that politics is many things. Interesting and inspiring are just two of them. 


 

 

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