Richard H. Austin

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Richard H. Austin
39th Michigan Secretary of State
In office
January 1, 1971 – January 1, 1995
Governor William Milliken (1971–1983) James Blanchard (1983–1991) John Engler (1991–1995)
Preceded by James M. Hare
Succeeded by Candice S. Miller
Personal details
Born (1913-05-06)May 6, 1913
Died April 20, 2001(2001-04-20) (aged 87)
Political party Democratic

Richard H. Austin (May 6, 1913 – April 20, 2001) was the first African American to hold a state-wide elected position in Michigan. Austin served as the Michigan Secretary of State from 1971 to 1995.

Austin was born in Stouts Mountain, Cullman County, Alabama, on May 6, 1913. He completed a bachelor of arts degree in business administration from the Detroit Institute of Technology. He was an accountant by profession. He served as a delegate for the Wayne County 6th District to the constitutional convention that produced the 1962 Michigan Constitution. In 1964, he ran for Congress in Michigan's 1st congressional district, but lost to John Conyers. He then made an unsuccessful bid to become mayor of Detroit in 1969.

In 1970, Austin was elected as the Michigan Secretary of State. During his tenure, he supported the enactment of laws mandating use of seatbelts and child safety seats. In 1976 Austin unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Philip Hart. Don Riegle won the nomination and went on to serve three terms.

In 1994, Austin lost his bid for re-election to the office of Secretary of State to Candice Miller, a Republican. As of 2013 he is the last Democrat to have served as Secretary of State of Michigan.

Austin died from Alzheimer's Disease on April 20, 2001, at the age of 87.

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Political offices
Preceded by
James M. Hare
Secretary of State of Michigan
1971–1994
Succeeded by
Candice Miller