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First Black prosecuting attorney Percy J. Langster honored in Idlewild

The nation’s first Black prosecuting attorney was elected in Northern Michigan close to 75 years ago and on Friday his lasting legacy was honored in Lake County.

Percy J. Langster was elected in Idlewild back in 1948 and served from 1949 to 1959 as the first Black prosecuting attorney in the nation.

The State Bar of Michigan held an event earlier in the afternoon naming Langster as the 44th Michigan Legal Milestone.


A bronze plaque commemorating Langster’s life and legacy was unveiled during the milestone celebration.

Langster beat out the incumbent and during a time when white voters outnumbered Black voters 3 to 1 in Lake County.

The president of the State Bar of Michigan, James Heath, said Langster’s rise to office speaks to the man he was.

“He was the first in the country, and it’s really appropriate that it happened right here in Lake County because of the unique history that Idlewild community has throughout the country and throughout our state for years, generations of African-Americans have been coming to the Idlewild community to recreate, to enjoy the wonderful wildlife here, the fishing, the boating and all of that, when, frankly, they were kept out of the recreational opportunities in other places in the state,” said Heath.


The commemorative plaque is expected to be put on display at the Lake County courthouse in about three weeks.

At the time of Langster’s election, Idlewild was the largest black summer resort community in the nation.

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