- NAME: Coleman Young
- OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Mayor
- BIRTH DATE: May 24, 1918
- DEATH DATE: November 29, 1997
- Did You Know?: Coleman Young helped found the National Negro Labor Council in 1951.
- Did You Know?: In 1968, Coleman Young became the first African American on the Democratic National Committee.
- Did You Know?: In 1973, Coleman Young was elected the first African-American mayor of Detroit.
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
- PLACE OF DEATH: Detroit, Michigan
- Full Name: Coleman Alexander Young
- AKA: Coleman Young
Best Known For
Politician, activist and labor leader Coleman Young was the first African American to be elected mayor of Detroit. He also became the city's longest-serving mayor.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Coleman Young was born on May 24, 1918, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Young was a labor activist who helped found the National Negro Labor Council in 1951. He was elected to the Michigan Senate in 1964. In 1968, Young became the first African American on the Democratic National Committee. In 1973, he became the first black mayor of Detroit. Young served five terms in office. He died on November 29, 1997, in Detroit, Michigan.
"The victim of racism is in a much better position to tell you whether or not you’re a racist than you are."
"Swearing is an art form. You can express yourself much more exactly, much more succinctly, with properly used curse words."
"I suppose I'd like to be remembered as the mayor who served in a period of ongoing crisis and took some important steps to keep the city together, but left office with his work incomplete."
Coleman Alexander Young, generally known as Coleman Young, was born on May 24, 1918, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He was the first of five children born to William and Ida Young. In 1923, the family moved to Detroit, Michigan, hoping to escape the violence, racism and political inequality that African Americans in the South had to endure.
Young attended both public and Catholic schools in Detroit. As he was one of the top students in his graduating class at Eastern High School, Young was eligible for a scholarship. However, he was not offered enough support to cover other costs besides tuition. As a result, Young could not afford to attend college.
Young instead took a job with the Ford Motor Company as an assembly line worker. He also became a participant in labor union efforts, particularly in support of the rights of African-American workers. Though his union activities led to the loss of his job at Ford, Young still continued to work as a labor organizer.
With the advent of World War II, Young was drafted into the military. He served as a bombardier with the Tuskegee Airmen, though he never saw combat. Young had nearly completed his service when he was arrested for attempting to desegregate an officer's club in Indiana.
Returning to Detroit after the war, Young resumed his work as a union organizer, eventually becoming the director of organization for the Wayne County branch of the Congress of Industrial Organizations. However, Walter Reuther—head of the United Auto Workers—fired Young in 1948 for radical behavior. Young then worked full-time for progressive presidential candidate Henry A. Wallace. Young also helped found the National Negro Labor Council in 1951.
Young's progressive actions led to a confrontation with the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952, when it accused him of being a Communist subversive. During his appearance before HUAC, Young stated, "I consider the activities of this committee to be un-American." Though his stance earned him attention in some quarters, Young was subsequently blacklisted by employers and labor organizations.
For the rest of the 1950s, Young survived with the few jobs he could find, such as working in insurance sales and driving a cab. Still interested in politics, Young unsuccessfully ran to become a state representative in 1959. He was elected to the Michigan Senate in 1963. In 1968, he became the first African American on the Democratic National Committee. Young would go on to win the position of vice chairman of the DNC.
profile name: Coleman Young profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Famous Geminis 556 people in this group
African-Americans have a long history of activism in America, from fighting for the right to vote to pushing for integrated public spaces. Activists like Stokely Carmichael organized freedom rides, James Meredith fought to integrate blacks and whites at the University of Mississippi, and Rosa Parks instigated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. These protests were often legal and nonviolent, and made a powerful impact on civil rights in the United States. With the help of activists like these—and many others—the country slowly worked to acknowledge the basic rights and contributions of African-Americans. Activists outisde of the U.S. include Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, who have fought against apartheid in South Africa. Learn more about the many black activists who fought against the odds in order to achieve equality.
Famous Black Activists 160 people in this group
"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love." Stated by legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., these words represent a basic human philosophy to which black history's greatest leaders have passionately subscribed. Learn more about the world's most revered civil rights activists, known for their fight against social injustices and lasting impact on the lives of black citizens, including Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
Famous Civil Rights Activists 186 people in this group