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Remembering Ailene Butler

"People often wonder why a musician is such a political activist. The answer: My Mother." - Roselyn

Ailene Roselyn Martin Robinson Butler (nee Allen) was born December 16, 1916 in Americus, Georgia and passed on to her reward on February 20, 2002. She was the thirteenth child of Charles and Lula Semancy Allen (nee Spencer). The family moved to Flint, Michigan when she was three years old. Ailene Butler graduated from Northern High School in Flint, attended Sienna Heights College in Adrian, and received her Mortuary Science degree from Wayne State University in Detroit.

Ailene Butler became the first female mortician in the city of Flint and the first woman to own and operate her own Funeral Home. She was the first African-American woman elected to the Flint City Council, elected to office in November 1973.

As a young woman, Ailene Butler successfully integrated the Young Women's Christian Association in the city of Flint and became Flint's first African-American Girl Scout Leader. She was the first woman elected as Vice President and board member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and assisted in the Creation of the NAACP Credit Union, as well as serving as its first loan officer.

Ailene Butler was Chairperson of the Social Programs Committee. Through her tireless efforts on this committee, she was able to obtain assistance for day care centers, the Opportunities Industrialization Center and the Urban League On-The-Job-Training program just for starters. She was in the forefront of the effort to combat drugs and crime long before it became a national issue, pushing for education and rehabilitation as the best solution.

Ailene Butler was appointed to the original Flint Mayor's Advisory Committee, which established the Flint Human Relations Commission. Ms. Butler helped establish and was elected first chairperson of the Open Occupancy Committee whose work helped to make Flint the first city in the United States to pass a fair housing law by popular vote. She was co-founder and first chairperson of the National Black women's Political Leadership Caucus of the State of Michigan.

Ailene Butler was the founder and first president of Flint's Democratic Colored League of Women Voters and Chairperson of the Michigan State Caucus. She was active in the Women's Division of the Democratic Party and contributed immensely to Fundraising efforts to provide the Genesee County Democratic Party with a home.

Ailene Butler has been awarded the Annual Business Award from the Flint Club of the National Association of Negro and Business and Professional Women as "The Most Outstanding Woman of the Year." She has received the "Women of Wayne Headliner Award and the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Woman of the Year Award. She has received recognition from: the Governor of the state of Michigan, the Common Council of the City of Detroit, the City Council of the City of Lansing, the Michigan Department of Education, Mott Community College, the International Institute, the Genesee Area Skill Center as well as a special tribute from the Michigan House of Representatives and numerous other awards and certificates of appreciation

Ailene Butler was active in the Flint Urban League, the Genesee County Funeral Director's Association, the Flint Branch of Child and Family Services of Michigan and many other organizations. She chaired the Foreign Mission of the Foss Avenue Baptist Church, assisting in missions to drought-stricken Africa. She was Chairperson of the Mother Board of Canaan Baptist Church and was most deserving of the honors bestowed on her by the Concerned Pastors for Social Action.

Ailene Butler received a "Dedicated Service Award" for her contributions to African-American History and Culture in the Flint Community from the Great Lakes District Association Women's Auxiliary and has been honored with special recognition by Senator Don Reigle and Congressman Dale Kildee in the Congressional Record. Her photo and some of her awards have been exhibited in the Sloan Museum of African -American History. She has been nominated to become a "Distinguished Fellow of Northern High School" and her photograph will hang in the Viking Hall at Northern High School.

Although retired, Ailene Butler never stopped helping. She received a Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding service to the residents of Court Street Village. She served as an inspiration to her community continually exemplifying the motto of the Nation Black Women's Club Association, "Lifting as We Climb".

Ailene Butler leaves to celebrate her life a daughter and son-in law, Mr. and Mrs. David and Roselyn Leonard of New Orleans; two step daughters and son-in law, Joyce Butler and Mr. and Mrs. Wilbert and Marian Martin, of Flint; eight grandchildren, Arlee Roselyn Leonard of New York, Autumn Rose-Sarah Leonard of Boston, David Stormborn Martin Leonard of New Orleans, Mr. and Mrs. Tui and Adrian Wright of Canoga Park, CA, Mr. and Mrs. Wilbert and Debbie Martin, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Paul and LaShannon Martin of Atlanta, Melanie Martin of Gary, Indiana and Alicia Martin of Flint; seven great grand children, Jordan Adonai and Brendan David Biko Wright of Canoga Park, CA, Christopher, Dia, Nicholas and Ayanna Martin of Atlanta and DiAriyanne of Flint; her beloved nieces Marylou Woodward, Marsha Shines, Sandra Holmes Allen, and numerous other nieces nephews and her dear friend Mrs. Mazelle Baron, Friends of the Thursday Afternoon Club and the Canaan Baptist Church family.

 

David and Roselyn

 

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