Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuskegee Airman: Former Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young

Coleman Alexander Young (1918-1997), was the longest-serving mayor of Detroit, Michigan. After ten years as a Michigan state senator, Mr. Young was elected to the mayorship in 1973 and served until 1993.

*  Born in Tuscaloosa Alabama and raised in Detroit since the age of 5, Mr. Young always achieved academically. He was offered a scholarship to a local Catholic high school, but the offer was rescinded when a priest realized that young Coleman was Black. He attended Eastern High School instead and graduated second in his class.

* Young Coleman excelled in the Boy Scouts, achieving the level of Eagle Scout. However, when his troop won a trip to Bob-lo Island Amusement Park, young Coleman was turned away at the ferry boat to the island because he was Black and the day of the trip was not "Colored Day at Bob-lo".

* While working at Ford Motor Company, Mr. Young became involved in union organizing activities, believing that civil rights and workers' rights were linked. He was blacklisted and had an FBI file opened against him. Yet, he became the first Black official in the CIO.

* Mr. Young was drafted into the military during WWII and became a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, rising to the rank of lieutenant.

* Because of his political views and union work, Mr. Young had trouble finding work after he returned from the war. When his wife experienced complications with her pregnancy, Mr. Young could not afford proper medical care and they lost the baby.

* Mr.Young was called to testify before the Congress and its "Un-American Activities Committee"; he became a local hero to the Black committee in Detroit due to the radiocast of his testimony.

* Mr. Young served on the Michigan Constitutional Convention committee in the 1960s, writing the civil rights section of the new constitution. He became the first Black member of the Democratic National Committee in 1968.

All of his life experiences, including being a member of the renowned Tuskegee Airmen, shaped the person known as Mayor Coleman Alexander Young.

If you personally know any Tuskegee Airmen--friends or family--please let us know in the comments!


  1. My uncle, Lionel Lewis who currently lives in Detroit was a Tuskeee Airman. I am proud of him to this day.

  2. I don't know any of them personally but I'm planning to see the movie, I hear it's great!

  3. I also don't know any of the airmen personally, but I did see the movie. It was excellent and I feel that this should be required viewing in ALL high schools. Very inspiring no matter what your race. Perseverance and pride in self is definitely displayed, nothing was handed to them.

  4. Dr.Dempsey Morgan, Tuskeegee Airman, from Detriot Michigan, is a resident at the Salem Veterans Care Center in Salem, Virginia.

    Lt. Col Herbert E. Carter, Tuskeegee Airman, will be the guest speaker at The First Annual Booker T. Washington Legacy Dinner on Sat. April 21st in Moneta Virginia.

    There are several living members of the Tuskeegee Airmen, Tidewater Chapter ( Hampton, Virginia).

    There are four deceased Tuskeegee Airmen from Roanoke, Virginia, where I reside.


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