0 Tuskegee Airman Coleman A. Young Flies through Detroit's Hard Times

Coleman A. Young, (1918-1997), Detroit’s first African American mayor, got the city out of bankruptcy (1981), rebuilt business and residential housing along the Detroit River, and integrated the Detroit Fire and Police Departments.

President Clinton praised Young as "not only a great mayor of Detroit, but an inspiration to so many city leaders throughout the nation." Young was elected Mayor on November 6, 1973, and reelected four times in 1977, 1981, 1985, and 1989.

He decided in 1993 not to seek a sixth term. Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Young’s family relocated to Detroit when Coleman was five.

Although he was the product of an excellent Roman Catholic elementary school education with top grades, he was denied admission to several of the outstanding Detroit high schools because of discrimination.

Young dropped out of high school, worked for the Ford Motor Company, then the post office.

He was a bombardier-navigator with the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Young read about A. Philip Randolph and the union movement, and became involved as an organizer in 1951.

Young founded the National Negro Labor Council. He was elected to the Michigan Constitutional Convention in 1960, and as a Michigan State Senator in 1964.

He was the first African American to serve on the National Democratic Committee in 1968.