Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Archer, Dennis

Dennis Archer is a lawyer and politician who served as Mayor of Detroit from 1994 to 2001. Born in Detroit on January 1, 1942 to Ernest and Frances Archer, Archer moved to his family’s farm in Cassopolis, Michigan when he was five. He began working at a young age as golf caddy and worked various jobs to put himself through college and law school. He attended Western Michigan University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. Following his graduation from Western, Archer moved back to Detroit where he worked as a teacher for disabled children in the Detroit Public School system. It was during his tenure with DPS that Archer met his wife Trudy DunCombe, with whom he had two children, Dennis W. Archer Jr. and Vincent DunCombe Archer.

After earning his law degree, Archer practiced as a trial lawyer and taught as an associate professor at the Detroit College of Law and an adjunct professor at Wayne State University Law School. In 1986 he was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court by Governor James Blanchard but stepped down in 1990.

In 1994, Archer succeeded Coleman Young to become Detroit’s 59th mayor. While in office, he managed to balance the budget after only one year and was able to secure $100 million in federal empowerment funds for the struggling city. Archer’s time as mayor earned him many awards and much admiration. He was named Public Official of the Year by Governing magazine in 2000, was named one of the 25 most dynamic mayors in America by Newsweek magazine, and one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans by Ebony magazine.

Archer’s time in office featured a focus on re-investment in the city, including welcoming casinos downtown. After his two terms as mayor, Archer returned to practicing law at one of Detroit’s most prestigious law firms, Dickinson Wright. Shortly after leaving office, he was appointed to Compuware’s board. In 2003 Archer served as the president of the American Bar Association, where he was the first African American to serve in the position.



Election flyer picturing Dennis Archer

Dennis Archer campaign novelty plate

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