The world’s spotlight is shining on Detroit, and our once-beleaguered city is sparkling like a new diamond. Let’s help it shine even brighter by continuing its upward momentum.
We can do that by keeping Mayor Mike Duggan in the driver’s seat to steer the Motor City into its phenomenal future. For the past four years, he has been doing an excellent job at helping our city navigate up and over the treacherous and destructive terrain of bankruptcy, crime, poverty, poor race relations and darkened streets.
He has driven us onto the more secure landscape of financial stability, a lower crime rate, and streets aglow under thousands of new streetlights. Detroit’s renaissance — with new restaurants, booming businesses, a vibrant downtown, new housing and residents, and a new entertainment complex — is attracting coverage around the world.
Detroit is alive. Our leadership, starting with Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, let the future begin by building bridges with the suburbs, attracting businesses such as General Motors, which relocated downtown to the Renaissance Center, and securing $2 billion in economic development by winning the federal Empowerment Zone.
All of this put Detroit in the express lane for the success we’re enjoying now. So let’s allow Duggan to keep his foot on the accelerator. And let’s not take a wrong turn backward. That could happen on Tuesday when Detroiters cast votes in the mayoral election. Your vote for Mayor Mike Duggan speeds us forward.
A vote for Coleman Young II would plunge us backward. This 34-year-old candidate, a distant second in the recent primary, would bring our city’s progress to a screeching halt; Detroit would crash back into gloomy devastation. Young is exploiting the name of his legendary father, elected in 1973 as the city’s first black mayor. Back then, Coleman Young Sr. truly transformed the city and pioneered progress.
But Young lacks the character, experience and fortitude that made his father a titan in Detroit and American history. Coleman Young Sr. was a trailblazer for racial progress as our nation and our city moved toward “two nations, one black, one white,” according to the Kerner Commission in 1968.
Unfortunately, too many people believe Young’s comments about race further divided Metro Detroit, which ultimately ranked as one of America’s most segregated areas.
Today, his son’s campaign platform uses a race-baiting “two cities” theme. He says Detroit is two cities, one rich, one poor, and that correlates with race. He says the progress of new development has come at the expense of our city’s African-American residents and business owners.
Dwelling on shame, blame and criticism will not fix the problem. Proposing solutions, such as programs for African-American-owned businesses to secure loans to participate in the city’s economic boom, would give him credibility. Pitching new ideas for training programs that can help people of color become entrepreneurs or get hired to work on new development projects would also boost his credibility.
But he is not a thinker or a doer. He is a critic, a windbag of nonsensical rhetoric that lacks substance or even logic at times. Even worse, race-baiting is a thing of the past. Solving problems with innovation and cooperation is the answer to Detroit’s future. That’s what Duggan has been doing.
The Rev. Jim Holley leads Little Rock Baptist Church.