Duggan expected to join push for Coleman Young statue in D.C.

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan on Monday is expected to join a press conference announcing an effort to send a statue of late Detroit Mayor Coleman Young to Washington, D.C., as Michigan's Democratic representative in National Statuary Hall.

It would replace one of territorial governor Lewis Cass, who died in 1866 and whose statue was sent in 1889.

For years, Democrats have wanted to replace the statue of Cass, a Democrat who was the party's 1848 presidential candidate, with someone better representing "the best of our state."

They have argued for removing Cass because he carried out Native American removal under President Andrew Jackson, believed states should choose their own slavery policies and owned at least one slave himself.

More:Michigan Democrats want Cass statue replaced in U.S. Capitol

States send their own statues to the National Statuary Hall Collection, and the choice is the Michigan Legislature's to make.

Leading the effort is state Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit, who says the Senate Democratic caucus is united, and cites custom saying it's their call, as a party, to choose their person. 

"Our person is Coleman Young," Hollier says.

He is expected Monday morning to announce a resolution to send the Coleman Young statue to Washington, to be joined by Coleman Young II who, like his father, is a former state senator, and Mayor Mike Duggan, who is "strongly supportive" of the idea.

In 2017, Young II ran against Duggan in the mayor's first re-election campaign. It was hard-fought, but Duggan won a lopsided victory, earning 72% of the vote.

If Young's legacy is controversial beyond Detroit, within city limits it is secure.

Detroit City Hall bears his name. Young II serves as a city councilman. His electoral and political career means that the Coleman Young name has rang out in Detroit for seven decades now.


Proposed Capitol statue prompts revisiting of former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young's career

► Democrats want Lewis Cass statue replaced. Is Coleman Young the answer?

The city's airport, on the east side, carries Young's name. The airport has fallen on hard times and seen better days.

"I hate to say it, but Detroit is not exactly a soaring emblem of American success nowadays," said Bill Ballenger, a former Michigan lawmaker and publisher of the Ballenger Report. "It's not like Detroit is some gigantic megalopolis of heroic stature."

"There's this enmity that the rest of the state carries toward Detroit," said the city of Detroit's official historian, Jamon Jordan. "To this day, there are a lot of White people who see Coleman Young as racist. He's not, but that's what they think."