Coleman Young, elected Detroit's first black mayor in 1973, is the city's longest-serving chief executive. Contentious and contradictory, he is, nonetheless, a savvy and convincing politician. In Coleman Young and Detroit Politics, Wilbur Rich delivers the first serious biography of this powerful and fascinating political figure.
Abandoned by many labor-organizing colleagues during the Red Scare of the 1950s, Young rescued himself from the purgatory of McCarthyism to become a major power broker in Michigan politics and in the National Democratic Party.
As mayor, Young seems to relish the attention, power, and opportunity that comes with the job. With the entire Detroit political community taking their cues from him, it is difficult for the city's residents and their suburban counterparts to be neutral about the man or his politics.
In his book, Rich combines biography with political analysis. He outlines the basic strategy underlying Young's approach to policy making and traces the economic changes in the city before and after Young's rise to power. Rich challenges conventional wisdom on the limits of mayoral power and examines Young's role in three key policy areas: affirmative action, economic redevelopment, and the city's fiscal crises.
The book provides a link to a larger body of literature on contemporary political analysis as well as topical reading on one of America's most controversial mayors.