Idlewild Centennial Commission

The Idlewild Centennial Commission was established within the Department of History, Arts and Libraries by Executive Order 2007-50 to coordinate activities commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Idlewild resort community in Lake County.  Founded in 1912, Idlewild represented freedom for many African Americans, being one of more than 30 resorts in the country where African Americans were permitted to vacation and purchase property before such discrimination became illegal in 1964.  Commonly known as "Black Eden," Idlewild was an active, year-round community through the mid-1960s, frequented by well-known entertainers and professionals from throughout the country.  

In late 2007, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm established the Idlewild, Michigan Transformation Initiative to leverage the community's unique strengths so it can attract new investment and economic growth.  The initiative is being supported by $93,875 in combined federal and state grants.  In November, Governor Granholm issued a request for proposals to develop an economic development action strategy for Idlewild that will help continue the revitalization and preservation efforts currently underway as part of the initiative.

Governor Granholm has appointed the following individuals to serve on the Idlewild Centennial Commission:

Elizabeth Atkins
journalist, public speaker and bestselling author of White Chocolate, Dark Secret and Twilight

Carol Boles
president of Mid-Michigan Idlewilders, Inc. and retired General Motors/AC Delco employee

Donel Brown
Yates Township supervisor and partner in the Idlewild, Michigan Transformation Initiative

Ruth Burton
past president of the Idlewild Lake Association 

Phillip Clay
creator of The Pride, Idlewild's first monthly e-newsletter

Carlean Gill
former CEO of Saginaw Beauty Academy, professional model and one of the original Braggs Fiesta Dolls in the Arthur Braggs' 1960 Idlewild Revue 
Mildred Kyles
planning member of the Detroit Tri-Centennial Committee/Detroit 300 Family Reunion Project and member of Positive Image, an Idlewild community action organization 

John O. Meeks
president of the Idlewild African-American Chamber of Commerce, former owner of Morton's Motel in Idlewild and partner in the Idlewild, Michigan Transformation Initiative 

Timothy Pharaoh Muhammad
executive director of ‘Bout Time Publishing and founder and organizer of Idlewild's Poetry in the Woods 

Michael C. Murphy
senior pastor of St. Stephens Community Church, United Church of Christ, partner in the Idlewild, Michigan Transformation Initiative, former 68th district state representative and former chair of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus 

Milan "Budde" Reed
owner and president of Ludington Beverage Company, Inc., chairman of the city of Ludington building authority and member of the board of directors of West Shore Bank 
Gloria Stephens Smith
East Lansing
professor emeritus of the Michigan State University College of Education and national president of the Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development 

Deborah Smith-Olson
chairman and CEO of Lake-Osceola State Bank and chair of the Lake County Enterprise Community Board 

George Walker Jr.
president of Positive Image, an Idlewild community action organization, and partner in the Idlewild, Michigan Transformation Initiative

Jewel Ware
chairwoman of the Wayne County Commission and partner in the Idlewild, Michigan Transformation Initiative

Mabel R. Williams
founder and member of the Lake County Community Foundation, Idlewild community activist and widow of internationally renowned human rights and NAACP activist Robert F. Williams 

Patricia Williams
owner and operator of Williams Court, a cottage rental company

Benjamin C. Wilson, Ph.D.
retired professor of Black Americana Studies at Western Michigan University and co-author of Black Eden: The Idlewild Community