DETROIT — The Detroit Public Library is opening to the public a collection of memos, official letters and other documents that crossed the desk of former Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young.
The papers offer insight into the tenure of Detroit's first black mayor. Bob Berg, who served as Young's press secretary, told Columnist Laura Berman of The Detroit News (http://bit.ly/1PfGTy4 ) that "people not only remember him, but are still arguing about him."
With help from the Detroit Public Library Friends Foundation, the library won an $87,500 grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation that enabled it to move the papers from an off-site warehouse where they had been stored before 2008. Their condition is described as pristine.
Young was elected in 1973 — six years after a race riot devastated many city neighborhoods and deepened the divide between whites and blacks in Detroit. During his many terms as mayor, the fiery, salty-tongued Democrat clashed often with suburban leaders and reporters.
He decided not to seek re-election in 1993 and died in 1997 after a long illness.
The thousands of papers include official reports, financial records, memos from department heads and other bureaucratic documents. The collection includes official and candid photos of Young with national luminaries, including musician Stevie Wonder and activist Gloria Steinem.
Two graduate student interns worked 20 hours a week to catalog the papers and create an index that's available online and at the Burton Historical Collection. The Historical Collection is celebrating its 100th anniversary and the library's sesquicentennial with a Young retrospective on May 21.
Coleman A. Young Mayoral Papers Project: http://bit.ly/1KZd8vx
Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/