The Coleman Young Warning

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, February 20, 2006

Any recent resident of Michigan knows Coleman Young. He was the perpetual mayor of Detroit in the ’70s and ’80s. And while initially he served an important role as a black person in a mostly black city, he eventually became something of a tyrant who did nothing but drive wedges between Detroit and the rest of Michigan. Now in the past few years, Michigan cities in general and Grand Rapids in particular have been getting boned by the state. This is understandably upsetting and a few have raised the possibility of fighting back with angry words and obstinate actions. Understandable, yes. Helpful (as Coleman Young has shown us), no.

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