Jan. 2, 1974: Coleman A. Young is sworn in as Detroit’s first black mayor

On this day in 1974, former state Sen. Coleman A. Young of 278 East Forest St. is sworn in as the Motor City’s first African-American mayor.

During his inaugural address, he puts crooks and criminals on notice:

I recognize the economic problem as a basic one, but there is also a problem of crime, which is not unrelated to poverty and unemployment, and so I say that we must attack both of these problems vigorously at the same time. The Police Department alone cannot rid this city of crime. The police must have the respect and cooperation of our citizens. But they must earn that respect by extending to our citizens cooperation and respect. We must build a people-oriented Police Department, and then you and they can help us to drive the criminals from the streets. 

I issue a forward warning now to all dope pushers, to all rip-off artists, to all muggers: It’s time to leave Detroit; hit Eight Mile Road. And I don’t give a damn if they are black or white, of if they wear Superfly suits or blue uniforms with silver badges: Hit the road. With your help, we shall move forward to a new and greater Detroit. 

We must first believe in ourselves. We must first do for ourselves. Yes, we will demand our share of revenue from Washington and from Lansing, but the job begins here and now with us. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the time for rhetoric is past – the time for working is here, the time for moving ahead is upon us. Let’s move forward together.

Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman, the author of On this Day: African-American Life in Detroit, is a native Detroiter and former news reporter. He served on the Detroit Charter Revision Commission. He lives in Detroit with his wife, Kim Trent, and their son, Jackson Coleman.