The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 1, 1997 - 5A
-Young remembered for
his toughness, honesty
DETROIT (AP) - He was tough. He was honest. He
broke color barriers. He once took on Congress.
Friends and colleagues of former Mayor Coleman Young
mourned his death Saturday, remembering him as one of a kind.
"There won't be another Coleman Young," said U.S. Rep.
John Conyers Jr,, (D-Detroit).
Young, a civil rights and labor leader and World War I1 sol-
dier, was among the nation's first big-city black mayors when
he won the first of his five terms in 1973.
"Coleman Young was a legend in his own time - a leader,
a fighter, a pioneer in the battle for equal rights and against
racial discrimination. His humor, gusto and passion for life
.Will never be duplicated," said Gov. John Engler.
President Jimmy Carter, who returned Young's support in
#he 1976 presidential election with hundreds of millions of
dollars in federal aid for the city, called Young "one of the
greatest mayors our country has known."
"With compassion and vision, he provided the leadership
tiat lifted Detroit from a climate of unprecedented violence
to one of hope and greater prosperity," Carter said. "Our
thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult
President Clinton called Young "not only a great mayor of
Detroit but an inspiration to so many city leaders throughout
"Mayor Young was truly an outstanding public servant who
will be missed," Clinton said.
Conyers was a teen-ager when he met Young, who was
active in politics in Detroit's Black Bottom neighborhood, as
was Conyers' father. While Young was well known for his
salty language, he could also be the consummate charmer, the
member of congress said.
"He has a magnetic presence, a splendid orator. He was a
happy-go-lucky guy, but he had a mind like a steel trap. If
you're laughing with Coleman for too long, you're going to
ase your pants," Conyers said.
Young was "charming, entertaining, humorous, thought-
flu," said former U.S. Sen. Donald Riegle Jr.
"I think Coleman, in my mind, is the Jackie Robinson of
American electoral politics," Riegle said. "He really broke
the color line, by being elected mayor and going on to a num-
ber of further re-elections.
"He was a brilliant thinker. He had his own way of express-
ing himself. He could be blunt, especially if he thought some-
one was pushing him," he said. "But under all that, was an
Continued from Page 1A
heritage of struggle and you have a
powerful force," he said. "This city will
not be overcome."
Despite criticism from some that
Young was arrogant and ineffective, he
was re-elected by substantial margins in
1977, 1981, 1985 and 1989.
When he announced in 1993 that he
would not seek a sixth term, he said:
"I've decided 20 years is enough. I'm
He was succeeded by former
Michigan Supreme Court Justice
Dennis Archer, who defeated Young-
backed candidate Sharon McPhail.
Young, one of the first black mayors
of a major U.S. city, was credited with
steering Detroit clear of bankruptcy in
1981, leading business and residential
rebuilding along the Detroit River and
racially integrating the fire and police
He had a reputation as a 24-hour
leader whose passion for Detroit and
furious work habits bordered on obses-
"Being mayor is not a job to him -
it's his life," Roy Levy Williams, a
Young appointee to a civilian police
board, said in 1991.
But he was criticized for what oppo-
nents saw as caring more about down-
town development than neighborhood
improvements. It was a common com-
plaint, but one he rejected.
"When I took office, there wasn't a
damn thing standing on 12th Street,"he
said in 1989. "1 stood out here and
made a speech up to my hips in weeds..
The downtown was dead."
White flight from Detroit didn't
begin with Young, but it continued
unabated during his administration
despite such projects as the completion
of the Renaissance Center, a towering
riverfront convention center.
By 1990, Detroit's population had
fallen nearly in half, and the metropoli-
tan area had become one of the nation's
most segregated. Detroit had just under
2 million residents in 1950, 1.2 million
in 1980 and just over 1 million in 1990.
That count showed Detroit was 76 per-
cent black and its suburbs less than5
When he announced his retirement,
Young cited problems still facing
Detroit, including unemployment,
crime and budget deficits. But over-
all, Young said, his legacy was posi-
"I still believe in Detroit," he said. "I
still believe our best days lie ahead:'
Several scandals marked Young's
in 1991, his police chief and a deputy
chief who was a business partner with
the mayor were indicted in the disap-
pearance of $2.6 million from a fund
used to pay informants and make drug
purchases. The deputy chief, Kenneth
Weiner, pleaded guilty. Former Chief
William Hart was convicted and sent to
prison in 1992.
In 1989, Young settled a paternity
lawsuit filed by a former city employee.
Genetic tests confirmed the claim that
Young had fathered her son.
Former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young leaves a news
conference in Detroit in June.
Mayor Dennis Archer, who succeeded Young, said the city
has lost "a great warrior."
"Mayor Young was not one ever to bite his tongue," he said.
"His compassion, his intellect, his courage, his wit and even
his occasionally sharp tongue were the essential.ingredients
of a man who tried to lead us to a world as it should be, rather
than accepting a world of the past."
The battles Young fought included one before the U.S.
House Un-American Activities Committee. His labor orga-
nizing earned him a subpoena. Asked if he was a member of
the Communist Party, Young refused to answer. He told the
panel he considered its activities to be un-American, he said
in his autobiography, "Hard Stuff."
San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown said Young was a pio-
neer and role model for blacks.
"He had to be the hero of black Americans while at the same
time he had to carry the mantle of organized labor," Brown said.
"While at the same time, he literally had to be a staunch middle
of the road Democrat in order to be successful at all"
Cardinal Adam Maida, archbishop of the Roman Catholic
Diocese of Detroit, said history will judge Young as the
"linchpin in the renaissance of Detroit.
"As we approach the millennium, Mayor Young's personal-
ity and accomplishments will loom large," he said.
Saeo t eCA n d dres s 6 y £ S &4 s t u c t e n t
* ** **** ****
a general student body informational meeting
discussing the Government's current projects and
Anderson Rooms A, B, C, & D (Michigan Union)
5:00 PM, Tuesday, December 2, 1997
Refreshments will be served