Mar 1, 2024 - News

History-making cardiologist's historic home commemorated

Michael Robinson, Lula Belle Stewart-Robinson's youngest son, 66, speaks with Axios at city hall.

Michael Robinson, Lula Belle Stewart-Robinson's youngest son, 66, speaks with Axios at city hall. Photo: Annalise Frank/Axios

The son of Lula Belle Stewart-Robinson — Michigan's first Black woman pediatric cardiologist — told his mother's story to Detroit City Council on Thursday.

Why it matters: A council committee gave unanimous support to create a designated historic district honoring Michael Robinson's mother's dedication to advancing health care equity.

  • The full City Council is expected to make its final vote Tuesday.

Catch up quick: Stewart-Robinson saw patients out of her house in Detroit's Petoskey-Otsego neighborhood starting in 1955 and grew an influential career in cardiology while serving patients who couldn't pay.

  • Her husband, educator and civil rights activist Phil Robinson, was her partner in these goals.

State of play: Michael Robinson and his siblings now aim to start a nonprofit with a base of operations at the home where Stewart-Robinson practiced.

  • The designation brings opportunities to apply for grants, as well as symbolism of teaching the next generation about the past.

The intrigue: Council member Fred Durhal III said his first job was as a peer counselor at the Lula Belle Stewart Center, which was built in Stewart-Robinson's name and became a national model for serving teens and expectant parents.

  • "I saw lives transformed with my very own eyes at a young age," Durhal said. "[Stewart-Robinson's] legacy has continued to live on. … I am fully in support of this, I think it's long overdue."

What they're saying: "It really gave me the opportunity to honor my mother and father in a way that let me research into their history," Michael Robinson told Axios after the council hearing.

  • He said that in her research for the historic district, city architectural historian Rebecca Savage found news articles with quotes from his mother that he'd never read.
  • "I was blown away," he said.

Go deeper: Read Dr. Stewart-Robinson's story

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