Magazine article Ebony

Requiem for an Urban Giant

Magazine article Ebony

Requiem for an Urban Giant

Article excerpt

He was salty, provocative, profound. He came up from the cottonfields, up from the auto plants, up from the union ranks and became the first Black mayor of the city of Detroit. For 20 turbulent, exciting, call-a-spade-a-spade years, Coleman A. Young held Motown in his hands, and when he died recently at the age of 79 after a long struggle with emphysema, New Detroit President William Beckam said, "Coleman Young is Detroit."

What made him memorable, and what made even his detractors pause to remember and to shake their heads in awe, was an indomitable spirit that could not be contained by conventional politics or orthodoxy. He was that rarity of all rarities, a free spirit who achieved power and remained a free spirit spirit, a free spirit whose press conferences could not be carried live because he used so many four-letter words. Whatever his faults, whatever his limitations, he was one of the giants of an era of giants, a giant who had a dream for a new Detroit and a new urban America, a dream that was derailed in his time by racism and poverty and small visions and cannot be defended if we do not return to that magic time when Harold Washington was the mayor of Chicago and he was the mayor of Detroit and everything seemed possible in Black America. …

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