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Michigan Senate Democrats want to replace state's statue in US Capitol

Architect of the Capitol

A resolution introduced Tuesday in the Michigan Senate aims to replace one of the two statues representing the state in the U.S. Capitol.

The statue targeted for replacement depicts Lewis Cass. He was a U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, and early governor of the Michigan territory.

But state Senator Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) said Cass has a troubling history, especially when it comes to his time working on the Indian Removal Act as the U.S. Secretary of War. That law resulted in the forced resettlement of tens of thousands of Native Americans.

“He was the architect and the enactor of the Trail of Tears, and he is someone who, when Michiganders and people from all across the country go to our nation’s capitol, they see represented with a line that says, ‘Michigan,’” Hollier said from the Senate floor Tuesday.

Hollier wants to replace Cass with a statue of former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young. He was the first Black mayor of Detroit and served as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.

“As a legislature, we are going to do the work necessary this year to ensure that when people go to the nation’s capitol, they see a national hero, they see someone who’s a Tuskegee Airman, they see someone who fought against McCarthyism, they see someone who fought for and won battles to ensure domestic auto production remained here,” Hollier said.

He said Young would be the first Black man represented in the National Statuary Hall Collection. Each state has two statues in the collection.

The concurrent resolution in the state Senate is the first step to replacing the statue of Cass, which has stood since 1889, with Young in the Capitol. Every Senate Democrat signed on to the resolution to do so.

Michigan’s other statue in the U.S. Capitol depicts former President Gerald Ford. That bronze statue in the capitol rotunda was added in 2011.

Copyright 2022 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Colin Jackson | MPRN