Robert L. Millender Sr. was an attorney, and civil rights activist in the city of Detroit and political campaigner, best known for his drive to improve the representation of African Americans in political leadership.
Millender was born on December 8, 1916, in Chicora, Mississippi. His family moved to Detroit in 1921 when his father migrated North for a job at Ford Motor Company. Millender graduated from Northwestern High School and followed his father into a job at Ford. He married in 1941 and left Ford and took a job at the post office so that he could attend night school.
At the outbreak of World War II, Millender joined the United States Army at the outbreak of World War II, by the time of his discharge in 1945, he had risen to the rank of Warrant Officer. After the war, Millender returned home and enrolled in the Detroit College of Law where he graduated in 1952. He became employed with the Workers Compensation Board and later the deputy director in 1957.
Millender became interested in politics as a way for African Americans to increase their influence. He was a driving force behind the first generation of successful African American politicians in the city of Detroit. In the mid-1950s, he began to develop political strategies and to recruit young African American leaders to run for political office.
Millender was known for his tireless efforts on behalf of African American candidates, spending countless hours canvassing neighborhoods and meeting with voters and city leaders. His dedication led to a number of significant political victories in which he managed the campaigns. Robert Millender died in 1978.