Throughout her career — as state legislator, judge, Congresswoman, practicing attorney and Michigan’s first woman lieutenant governor — Martha Griffiths fought and won important victories for equal rights for women and minorities.
Griffiths’ first try for public office in 1946 resulted in defeat, but she was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1948 and served two terms. After serving as Recorder’s Court Judge in Detroit (the first woman to do so) she ran successfully for the U.S. Congress in 1955, where she served with great distinction until retiring in 1975.
In Congress, Griffiths was best known for successfully adding sex discrimination as a prohibited act in the landmark l964 Civil Rights Act, opening the door for gender equity. She shepherded the Equal Rights Amendment through the U.S. House (it had always been defeated in the past) and worked for positive changes in Social Security and pension fund benefits to help widows as well as on behalf of education, and people with disabilities.
After Congress Griffiths practiced law until running successfully for lieutenant governor of Michigan in 1982, serving two terms.