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Dennis Wayne Archer (born January 1, 1942) is an American lawyer, jurist and former politician from Michigan. A Democrat, Archer served on the Michigan Supreme Court and as mayor of Detroit. He later served as president of the American Bar Association, becoming the first black president of the organization, which, until 1943, had barred African American lawyers from membership.[1][2]

Dennis Archer
Mayor of Detroit Dennis Archer Portrait.jpg
67th Mayor of Detroit
In office
January 3, 1994 – December 31, 2001
Preceded byColeman A. Young
Succeeded byKwame Kilpatrick
Associate Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court
In office
January 1, 1986 – December 27, 1990
Appointed byJames Blanchard
Preceded byJames L. Ryan
Succeeded byConrad Mallet Jr.
Personal details
Dennis Wayne Archer

(1942-01-01) January 1, 1942 (age 77)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Trudy DunCombe (m. 1967)
  • Dennis Wayne, Jr.
  • Vincent DunCombe
Alma materWestern Michigan University (BS)
Detroit College of Law / Michigan State University (JD)


Early life and educationEdit

Archer was born in Detroit, but raised in Cassopolis.[3] He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in education from Western Michigan University. He taught learning-disabled children in Detroit Public Schools from 1965 to 1970. Archer earned his J.D. from the Detroit College of Law, now the College of Law of Michigan State University, in 1970.[4]

In addition to practicing law in Detroit, Archer was an associate professor at the Detroit College of Law from 1972 to 1978, and an adjunct professor at Wayne State University Law School from 1984 to 1985.[5] He was a member of the board of directors of the Detroit Bar Association and chairman of the association's Young Lawyers Section from 1973 to 1975, and president of the Wolverine Bar Association from 1979 to 1980.[6] He was president of the National Bar Association from 1983 to 1984, president of the State Bar of Michigan from 1984 to 1985.[6]

Service on the Michigan Supreme Court and as Detroit mayorEdit

Archer served as a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court from 1986 to 1990. In his last year as a Michigan Supreme Court justice, he was named "most respected judge in Michigan" by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

Archer served as mayor of Detroit from 1993 to 2001. As mayor, he worked to repair the city's relations with the Detroit suburbs and the local business community through cooperation with suburban business leaders on their redevelopment plans for the city, reducing tensions.

Archer was a strong supporter of numerous construction projects in downtown Detroit, including two new stadiums, Ford Field for the Detroit Lions and Comerica Park for the Detroit Tigers. Archer also became president of the National League of Cities during his last year as mayor.

As mayor, Archer was never popular with loyalists of his predecessor, Coleman Young. Young favored Sharon McPhail, a former member of the Detroit City Council, and wished for her to succeed him. In the 1993 race to succeed Young, Archer (who is black) did not win a majority of the black vote. Archer was re-elected by a large margin in 1997, but was subject to a recall campaign in his second term, launched by many of his original opponents. He declined to run for re-election in 2001.[7]


Upon leaving office as Mayor of Detroit in January 2002, Archer was appointed as chairman of Detroit-based law firm Dickinson Wright, and the board of directors of Compuware.[8] He is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America.

In 2004, he was appointed to an eight-year term ending December 31, 2012 on the board of trustees of the Western Michigan University by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. He was appointed legal guardian for famous civil rights activist Rosa Parks in October 2004.

In February 2008, Archer announced that he was considering running for governor of Michigan in 2010, but ultimately decided not to enter the race the following November.[9][10]

Archer serves as a co-chair of the National Transportation Policy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center.[11]

He is currently[when?] a member of investment bank Jefferies Global Senior Advisory Board.

Archer is an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee, where he serves as a member of the Executive Committee.

On December 1, 2017, Archer released his memoir, "Let the Future Begin," co-written with Elizabeth Ann Atkins, and published by Atkins & Greenspan Writing.

Personal lifeEdit

Archer is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and of Geometry Lodge #49, F&AM PHA, Prince Hall Freemasonry.


  1. ^ "Dennis Archer Becomes First African American President-Elect of the American Bar Association". US Mayor Newspaper. 2002-09-09. Archived from the original on 2002-11-17.
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "American Bar Association". Retrieved 28 October 2014.
  4. ^ "Dennis Archer". Detroit African-American History Project. Archived from the original on 2008-01-03. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
  5. ^ "Profile, Dennis Archer: Expertise". Detroit, MI: Dickinson Wright, LLP. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Profile, Dennis Archer: Expertise".
  7. ^ Bradsher, Keith (2001-04-18). "Detroit Mayor Will Not Seek Another Term". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2008-09-06.
  8. ^ "Compuware Appoints Dennis W. Archer to Board of Directors". Compuware press release. Archived from the original on 2008-05-12.
  9. ^ "Ex-Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer says he may run for governor". Associated Press. 2008-02-06.
  10. ^ "Dennis Archer won't run for governor". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2008-11-20.
  11. ^ [2] "National Transportation Policy Project" Dennis Archer becomes ɒ̃

External linksEdit