Sheila Cockrel: Mayor Duggan Discusses History of Race in Detroit So Eloquently
June 1st, 2017, 7:41 AM
State Sen. Coleman A. Young II, a candidate for Detroit mayor, wants to make race an issue. He says Mayor Mike Duggan can't effectively govern a predominately black city.
On Wednesday, Duggan delivered a Mackinac Policy Conference speech about the city's renaissance and progress since emerging from bankruptcy 2½ years ago. And he discussed the history of race in Detroit in a way that so impressed former City Council member Sheila Cockrel.
"I never thought I would live to see a mayor of Detroit explain the history of race in the city of Detroit with such eloquence and candor and truth and lift up the connections and relationships between racism, economic inequality and racial segregation in housing," she tells columnist Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press.
"These are literally the fundamental factors that have shaped not just the city, but the region," she adds. "And in this era where we're looking at the commemoration of the 1967 rebellion, this is the most important significant dialogue not just for the city, but for the region."
Duggan described how city and federally sanctioned housing discrimination first forced black Detroiters into the same two neighborhoods, and then into high-rise housing that would entrap some for decades.
He talked about how those neighborhoods, Paradise Valley and Black Bottom and its 400 black businesses, were bulldozed to create a freeway and how the residents -- all renters because they could not get mortgages to buy homes -- were displaced.
He talked about how, in recent years, longtime Detroiters were being displaced by developers cashing in on the new Detroit, and about the rules the City Council and he were putting into place to assure that history doesn't repeat itself.
He told the story matter-of-factly without judgments or recriminations or wasn't-that-a-shames.