BY JULIA KASSEM, Staff Columnist
A statue of former Mayor Orville Hubbard was taken down on Tuesday, Sept. 29 in front of the old City Hall in Dearborn.
The mayor, infamous for his segregationist and bigoted views and rhetoric, served as the city’s mayor from 1942-1978. Known for his expedient administration and punctual trash collection, his signature motto of “keeping Dearborn clean” perhaps harbored a bigoted dual campaign to rather keep Dearborn white. His campaign against a referendum for low-income housing development was spelled out on leaflets urging citizens to “keep the Negroes out of Dearborn.”
Denying racism, he rather was a self asserted favorer of “segregation.’’ Otherwise, the ex-mayor warned, integration would allow for a “mongrel” race that would bring about the “end of civilization,” he told New York Times in 1969.
The city still bears two senior centers and a road that intercepts Evergreen Road that bears Hubbard’s name.
The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Michigan’s open letter to the city to take the statue down on July 10 asked that “the mayor’s role in maintaining a system of racial oppression be properly exposed and acknowledged.”
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Michigan’s executive director Dawud Walid emphasized that “the vision Orville Hubbard had, thankfully, is not the Dearborn of today,” nodding to a community that boasts a 41.7 percent Arab-American, 4 percent Latino, and 4 percent African-American.
The city, having no longer owned the property of the site and its cohabiting City Hall, sold the area to Artspace Projects, Inc. for $16.5 million in 2013. The renovations have transformed the 90 year old building into a loft that invites artists of all different styles and backgrounds to showcase their work affordability.
The removal of the statue has signified the departure of a community from the relics of racism to one internationally recognized for its intermeshing of immigration, innovation, and culture. Recognizing Hubbard’s place in an antiquated and at times shameful history should also recognized that his legacy should no longer have a bearing in the current narrative of Dearborn, Michigan.