On this day in 1969: A GOP governor plants his flag in Detroit

    Gov. William Milliken opened an office in Detroit on this day in 1969.

    The Traverse City Republican became the state’s chief executive officer on Jan. 22 after George Romney resigned to join President Richard Nixon administration.

    “The problems of the city are the problems of us all, whether we live in the Upper Peninsula, Benton Harbor of Detroit,” Milliken said.

    The new governor said he expected to use the office, located in the state Labor Building on Woodward Avenue and East Grand Boulevard, “once a week and perhaps more often.”

    “I will have meetings and a schedule of appointments here,” Milliken added. “I expect to spend full days working in this office.”

    William Milliken

    He also announced that state and federal funds allocated to the Detroit metropolitan area would increase 23 percent to $221 million over the previous fiscal year. Much of the spending would be centered on highways and streets, but it also included education, public assistance and job training investments.

    The first urban park in Michigan is named in his honor. The William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor is 31 acres along Detroit’s riverfront. This year, plans to expand the park have been announced, including a marina promenade, peninsula playfields, and a dry dock ship, plaza and pool.

    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil 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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