Coleman Young: a familiar name for mayor in Detroit

- A man with a familiar name in Detroit is hoping to pull the ultimate upset on Mike Duggan in the race for Mayor this year. Coleman Young Jr. is hoping to bring some of his father's leadership to the city and says he's ready to claim his legacy.

This is half of our two-part series featuring the two candidates for Detroit Mayor. We also featured Mayor Mike Duggan here. Watch the full profile on Young in the video above and don't forget to VOTE on Tuesday.


The original Coleman Young was a Tuskegee Airman, a union official, and he stood up to the vicious U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy before becoming a state senator and, eventually, mayor of Detroit. His son's political rise has been much quicker, and much easier, raising questions about whether father and son share more than a name.

Young lives in Detroit and shares a home with his mother. But he says that shouldn't stop Detroiters from picking him for the next mayor.

"Let me say it like this: As a man, I'm supposed to provide for my family - with my job. And that's what I do every day - I pay all my bills."

Coleman Young II, or Coleman Young Jr. which he calls himself while greeting riders on the Dexter bus, says there are two Detroits: one is well-off, situated at the city's center, and whiter; the other is poorer, populates the city's sprawling neighborhoods, and blacker. 

Young doesn't buy Mayor Mike Duggan's line that the comeback is starting to spread throughout the city.

"I think we have someone who does not give a damn about the residents and poor people and I think, quite frankly, just has disdain toward them and that's why I'm running, and that's why I'm running now," Young said.

Young's father was Detroit's first black mayor. Duggan is the first white guy elected mayor since 1969. Race has inevitably become an issue in this race.

"Let me say this first of all: you know what I'm tired of? I'm sick of being a black man running for mayor and having to apologize for it. I really am just sick and tired of that. I'm pro-black. and just because I'm pro-black people doesn't mean I'm anti-everybody else."

Young further says that it doesn't matter what the mayor of Detroit looks like. He said that currently we don't have a mayor who cares about the people, regardless of race.

Young is known for fiery speeches on the Senate floor, but he is friendly and easy-going in person. He has so far failed to bring in much money from the unions or other traditional power bases that generously supported his father. With just over a week left in the campaign, he had raised a paltry $53,000. Yet in the only mayoral debate, young said he would convince Republicans in Washington to give Detroit money by wowing them with his plans for the city.

Young does not have a long list of accomplishments after a decade in Lansing, which isn't unusual given Republican control of state government. His signature achievement is legislation ending the practice of employers requiring pregnant women to take unpaid leave.

"We stopped that. in the public and the private sector. So that means whether you were working for the government or whether you were working in the corporate world, you will receive benefits, you will receive paid maternity leave, which I think is about equity, is about fairness, is about justice," he said.

Young says he's unbiased and unbought and that the reason he hasn't raised more money is because he is a man of the people. He also said that money might get a message out, but having money isn't as good as a winning message.

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