On this day in 1968: Young becomes Senate Dems’ first Black floor leader

    Michigan Senate Democrats on March 5, 1968, selected Coleman A. Young of Detroit as their floor leader.

    The 49-year-old Young replaced Sandy Levin, who was voted in January chair of the Democratic State Central Committee in January, the Lansing State Journal reported. Levin would eventually serve as Sente minority leader.

    Young was the first African-American to serve in the post. The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native would later be elected mayor of Detroit, where he served five terms until retiring in 1994.

    Levin ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1970 and 1974 and was defeated both times by GOP Gov. William Milliken.

    Sandy Levin, 2016 | Susan J. Demas

    Levin served in the U.S. House of Representatives starting in 1983 and retired in January. He was succeeded by his son, Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.), in the 9th District seat encompassing Oakland and Macomb counties.

    Young’s son, Coleman Young II, also followed in his political footsteps. The Detroit Democrat served in the state House and Senate for more than a decade. He was termed out of the Senate in January. He’s also had unsuccessful runs for Congress and Detroit mayor.

    Coleman A. Young died in 1997.

    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman reports on Southeast Michigan, education, civil rights and voting 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, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.


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