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The people’s news for 35 years

35th AnniversaryFrom the first issue, the Michigan Citizen has covered the social ills and systemic challenges of local government in the city of Benton Harbor. Charles and Teresa Kelly began the paper on their dining room table and funded it with proceeds from a bar they owned called the Brooklyn. Charles Kelly joined the ancestors in 2006.

On the front page of the first issue was a story of local Black business leaders who were coming together to revitalize Benton Harbor. The issue also dealt with the Twin Cities Chamber of Commerce taking 20 percent of Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) grants for administration fees.

CETA, a Nixon jobs program, paired job searchers with government-funded work. The editorial described how Berrien County Blacks were mostly unable to get public work or county work.

The paper was part of a second wave of Black newspapers, originating in the 1970s. This second wave of newspapers was more radical, advocating more community-based solutions and Black empowerment than many Black newspapers of an older generation. This second wave helped better convey the range of experiences Blacks have in the United States.

Since its beginning, the Michigan Citizen has maintained a strong pro-community progressive editorial stance.

In 1985, the Michigan Citizen — wanting to grow and access a larger media market — moved to Highland Park where it became the official newspaper for the city.

At that time, the paper grew from a 12-page tabloid to a 16-page broadsheet.

Through the years, the Michigan Citizen has been proud to cover stories such as the wrongful conviction of Maurice Carter and the issue of mass incarceration. Our effort has always been to have city officials spend the money they get within the city and increase accountability and transparency. The Michigan Citizen has also focused, generally, on Black economic, cultural and political empowerment.

Thirty-five years later, we find not much has changed, but the people endure. As reported in this issue, we see that Benton Harbor residents are still being disenfranchised. Citizens statewide continue to struggle for transparency and accountability as emergency managers rule with impunity.

Today, we celebrate the business’ history and future with the redesign and launch of the new Michigan Citizen Web site. We have relaunched and improved our digital presence. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and get your news online at

Through the years we would like to thank all of the readers, subscribers, advertisers, staff and supporters.

We are proud to celebrate 35 years of publishing the people’s news.

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