The Free Press starts by listing some of the significant accomplishments of the mayor. Before his time in the city office, he was the judge of the monumental Ossian Sweet trial, where an African-American man was acquitted of all charges for defending his home against a white mob. Shortly after this case, Murphy was elected Mayor of Detroit. A position that he held for 3 years. Although it was a short time, Murphy made an incredibly large impact. He was working as mayor during the peak of the Great Depression, during which he managed to keep Detroit afloat and did a great deal to make sure that every Detroiter was cared for.
Despite being Mayor a little less than a century ago, many of Murphy’s policies and decisions were reflective of a much more modern era. He “Sponsored vegetable gardens to feed the hungry. He ramped up the city’s welfare agencies and pressured the gas and electric utilities and telephone companies to lower their rates for the city’s struggling residents.” These are ideas that people want in place today, particularly in relation to the water control. For a mayor almost a hundred years ago to come up with ideas that were so progressive is astounding.
Although I found the article fascinating, I also thought that it was a bit shallow. It really didn’t discuss too many of his opinions on other crucial aspects of city life. I am really intrigued to find out what his thoughts were on education and public transportation, especially during a time when the auto industry had such a strong hold on the city. Regardless, I think that a lot can be learned from this piece. I think that it is a necessity that any good city keeps the needs of the less well-off in constant consideration. Although I am no expert in Detroit politics, or any form of politics for that matter, I believe that Mayor Duggan is doing a good job of this, especially with regards to education.
A couple of weeks ago, our DukeEngage group went to the Green Garage, a local office for budding enterprises, for a talk that was being given by Mayor Duggan. Admittedly, I knew very little about the mayor before coming to this talk. I was, however, very impressed when he stated his intent on improving the education system in Detroit. I was especially happy when, during the conversation, exposed the hypocrisy of the charter schools, which were claiming to not discriminate against children based on income levels. Mayor Duggan took the time to point out the fact that these charter schools, whether or not it was by design, were placing themselves out of walking distance of many of the underprivileged neighborhoods. Because many people of lower income levels do not have access to vehicles and Detroit’s public transportation is such a mess, these charter schools have effectively cut off a number of students from receiving their education that they claim to be offering to everyone. It is the qualities like this, a genuine concern for the people of the community, that I think makes a great leader. I believe that Mayor Murphy had it, I think Mayor Duggan can prove he has it, and I know that there are countless people throughout Detroit who have it.