Michigan Democrats want to replace Lewis Cass statue with Coleman Young

Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young (Photo by David Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images) (David Turnley, Getty Images)

LANSING, Mich. – Democrats in the Michigan Senate want to remove a statue of a former U.S. senator from the state who supported slavery and instead unveil a statue of Detroit’s first Black mayor.

State Sen. Adam Hollier filed a resolution last week to recognize the life and work of Coleman Young by putting his likeness in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.

Young's statue would replace Lewis Cass, who represented Michigan in the U.S. Senate in the 1800s and held several other prominent jobs, including secretary of war under President Andrew Jackson.

Cass, who died in 1866, was governor of Michigan before it became a state. He also owned slaves and removed Native Americans from tribal lands while serving in Jackson’s administration.

Related: A look at history behind Detroit statues, monuments

Hollier doesn’t want Cass to represent Michigan in Statuary Hall, where each state is represented by two figures. He said he has the support of all Democrats in the state Senate to instead choose Young, who was Detroit mayor for 20 years. He died in 1997.

“It should be about who we raise up,” Hollier said.

The Michigan Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, must approve any change.

An image of former President Gerald Ford is the state's other statue at the Capitol.

In 2020, a regional education agency in southwestern Michigan named for Cass said it was dropping his name.