DETROIT – Wayne County Judge Craig Strong is a Detroit icon who has done so much while on the bench, and continues to be a trailblazer even through his retirement.
Strong was born and raised on the west side of Detroit, but it wasn’t easy for him to get to where he is today.
“I am the grandson of a slave. My father’s mother was born in slavery before the Civil War,” Strong said.
A graduate of Cass Technical High School, Strong decided to enroll at Howard University.
“It was while I was at Howard University that I decided to go into law. I wanted to do criminal law as part of my career. I also wanted to help people in need,” he said.
But after graduating, fate had a different route in mind for Strong. He was drafted to the Army in 1971 and later transferred to the Navy. He later became one of the only African Americans to serve as judge.
Upon his return home, Strong furthered his education, taking classes at the Detroit College of Law that has since been renamed to Michigan State University School of Law. From there, Strong would dive more into the legal world.
“I had a private practice and, within five years, I was on the bench as a referee in traffic court. That same year, I was elected a full judge of the Recorder’s Court where I served most of my career,” he said.
During his time on the bench, Judge Strong received numerous accolades, such as becoming the president of the Association of Black Judges in Michigan -- an organization he helped create as one of the founding members.
After a fruitful career, Strong recently retired from the Wayne County Circuit Court.
“I put a lot of smiles on people’s faces when I walk Downtown sometimes. I’ve had a bus pull over and people on the bus applaud me,” Strong laughed.
Strong is known for fashion, and partly because of that, he’s been able to meet many people.
“I like to tell young people you have to show up to go up. And when you show up, you meet people, you network and you develop friendships. I’ve developed a lot of friends and that’s why there’s so many photographs,” Strong said.
Judge Strong is the recipient of multiple awards including the Man of the Year Humanitarian Award and the Wiley A. Branton Symposium Award for leadership.
He’s also a member of the NAACP and the Black United Fund of Michigan.