Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Cockrel, Sheila

Sheila Cockrel was raised in Corktown by her activist parents, Lou and Justine Murphy, who led the Catholic Worker Movement and were dedicated to helping serve needy people in the community. Cockrel attended Wayne State University, where she followed in her parents’ activist footsteps and earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. In 1968, she formed the citywide Ad-Hoc Action Group to monitor police activities after the 1967 Riots.

In 1978, she married Ken Cockrel, whose successful campaign for Detroit City Council she had managed the year before. During her husband’s time on the City Council, Sheila Cockrel served as the Manager and Administrator of his office. Ken Cockrel passed away in 1989.  She is the step-mother to Ken's son, Detroit City Council member Ken Cockrel, Jr.

Sheila Cockrel ran for Detroit City Council in 1993 and was re-elected in 1997, 2001 and 2005. She retired from the Council in 2009 and is now a member of Wayne State University's faculty.

Cockrel lives with her daughter, Katy, and is a member of Gesu Parish and a lifetime member of the NAACP.