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Ribbon cutting ceremony held to unveil Harriet Woods Hill Way

Woods Hill was the first black woman in GRPD history, and was also the department's first female detective.
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Posted at 10:29 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 22:32:00-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Downtown Grand Rapids got a bit more vibrant Wednesday night because of a new mural added to the city to honor Harriet Woods Hill.

In 1955, Woods Hill became the first African American female in the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD).

In 1977, she was also named the first female detective in GRPD's history.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in the alley off Louis Street by the police department. The alley was transformed with artwork featuring the trail blazing detective.

"A trailblazer back when nobody else is doing it," said GRPD Police Chief Eric Payne. "She was female, she was African American, and to go into that profession back then it shows that everything anything's possible, and showed someone like me that I could be a police officer, and eventually becoming a police chief. So I think it's important that we recognize her and her history is not forgotten and lost."

The artwork was done by Jasmine Bruce, and was made possible through Women's Way GR, an initiative meant to elevate the historical narratives of local leaders.

The effort is a collaboration between various partners, including the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

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