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Stateside Podcast: Can Democrats get a Coleman Young statue in D.C.?

Coleman Young
Creative Commons

Over the past few years we’ve seen the literal fall of statues memorializing racist figures. Sometimes these relics are removed by consensus — other times by force.

Michigan Democrats are turning their attention towards one particular white marble artifact representing the state in the U.S. Capitol: the likeness of former U.S. Senator Lewis Cass.

Cass was a slave-holder and a central figure in implementing Andrew Jackson’s indigenous displacement policies.

And now Democrats want Cass out.

"Democrats wanted Cass gone for years but it was never clear who that next person should be," said Detroit News reporter James Dickson.

A new resolution introduced in the Michigan Senate aims to replace the Cas statue with the likeness of former Detroit mayor, Coleman Young. He was the first Black mayor of Detroit and served as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.

"We could have gone with Rosa Parks or Sojourner Truth, who would be a lot less controversial," said Dickson. "But the feeling was that Coleman Young was a strong black man. He was a major city mayor when Detroit was its most major and they felt that he was a nice replacement for Lewis Cass."

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Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Radio in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the Summer of 2020.