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Race and Representation in Detroit's Community Development Coalitions

Todd C. Shaw and Lester K. Spence
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 594, Race, Politics, and Community Development in U.S. Cities (Jul., 2004), pp. 125-142
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4127698
Page Count: 18
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Race and Representation in Detroit's Community Development Coalitions
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Abstract

This article examines how race affects conflict between advocates of community development and neighborhood revitalization and local government led by a black mayor. The article shows that partly due to issues of racial representation in community development leadership, some activists, even white activists and leaders supportive of social change, can be ensnarled in the fissures of racialized community development politics. The article analyzes the advocacy initiatives of the Detroit Save Our Spirit (SOS) coalition-a majority white but progressive alliance-as they challenged Mayor Coleman Young's community proposals between 1985 and 1993. Although Young was admired because he challenged racial inequality, his promotion of a progrowth economic development agenda led him to exploit Detroit's racial divide to demobilize black and white critics. We demonstrate how SOS represented a multicultural inclusion model to overcome some of the racial fissures in community development.

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