Coleman Young

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Coleman Alexander Young (May 24, 1918 – November 29, 1997) served as mayor of Detroit (Democrat) in the U.S. state of Michigan from 1974 to 1993. Young became the first African-American mayor of Detroit in the same week that Maynard Jackson became the first African-American mayor of Atlanta.


Pre-Mayoral career

Young was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Coleman Young, a dry cleaner, and Ida Reese Jones. His family moved to Detroit in 1923, where he graduated from Eastern High School. He worked for Ford Motor Company, which soon blacklisted him for involvement in labor and civil rights activism. He later worked for the United States Postal Service, where with his brother George started the Postal Workers union. George later went on to become Postmaster for this same facility, which handles over ten million pieces of mail each year. During the second World War, Young served in the 477th Medium-Bomber Group (Tuskegee Airmen) of the United States Army Air Forces as a bombardier and navigator. As a lieutenant in the 477th, he played a role in the Freeman Field Mutiny in which 162 African-American officers were arrested for resisting segregation at a base near Seymour, Indiana in 1945.

Young's involvement in progressive and dissident organizations including the Progressive Party, the AFL-CIO, and the National Negro Labor Council made him powerful enemies, including the FBI and HUAC, where he refused to testify. He protested segregation in the Army and racial discrimination in the UAW. In 1948 Young supported Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry A. Wallace, which he later viewed as a major mistake.[1]

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