The Root 100 - The Most Influential African Americans in 2020 - 47: Garlin Gilchrist II

Oleg Dyachenko
·1 min read

Garlin Gilchrist II grew up in Detroit learning the ropes of public speaking in the church pulpit but turned to computer science as a teenager after his grandmother bought him his first PC. His talent at fixing computers led him to study computer engineering at the University of Michigan and then later to embark on a career as a software engineer for Microsoft. But public service kept calling to him, driving him to work for the 2008 Obama presidential campaign and then to advocate for progressive policies with MoveOn.org as its national campaign director. In 2019, he was elected Michigan's lieutenant governor-the first African American to hold the position-and soon made a name for himself on the national stage after delivering remarks at a Democratic debate and receiving a standing ovation. Gilchrist now heads up Michigan's Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities and works to ensure that the state's COVID-19 response is addressing the needs of those in it most affected by the pandemic-Michigan's Black population. He's also a vocal champion for police and carceral reform and is co-chair of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration.