Advance Notice: Briefs

State House OKs measure to replace Lewis Cass with Coleman A. Young at U.S. Capitol

By: - December 7, 2022 11:50 am

Coleman A. Young of Detroit as a Michigan state senator in 1973. | Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University photo

The Michigan House on Tuesday passed a resolution that would replace a statue of former Michigan Gov. Lewis Cass inside the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.

The resolution was introduced by state Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit,) and called for replacing the statue of Cass with Coleman A. Young, Detroit’s first Black mayor. Young, a former state Senate member, was Detroit’s mayor between 1974 and 1994. He was also a member of the 1961-62 Michigan Constitutional Convention that revised the state government’s framework document to include a civil rights commission. 

The measure was adopted by the State Senate in June. Each state has two figures  in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building. 

Cass represented Michigan in the U.S. Senate in the 1800s and held several other prominent jobs, including secretary of war under President Andrew Jackson. He also enslaved people and was the architect of the infamous “Trail of Tears” that forced Native Americans from tribal lands during the Jackson administration.

An image of former President Gerald Ford, a GOP Grand Rapids native who also held a U.S. House seat, is the state’s other statue on Capitol Hill.

Past practice is that the party in state power makes the decision as to which statues sit in National Statuary Hall, according to Hollier. The National Statuary Hall Collection was authorized by Congress in 1864 to allow each state to provide two statues of notable citizens for display in the U.S. Capitol.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, has expressed support for the effort. 

“The work that Mayor Young did for the city should never be forgotten,” Hollier told the Advance earlier this year. “I hope to see this Detroit and Michigan political giant stand tall next to President Gerald Ford in the nation’s statue collection.”

Hollier told the Advance on Wednesday that he and others are establishing a commission that will raise funds for the statue.

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman writes about Southeast Michigan, history and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on Black life in Detroit.