Mar 15 2013
March 15 (Bloomberg) — When emergency manager Kevyn Orr arrives in near-bankrupt Detroit, almost half of Michigan’s black population will live under the rule of state overseers with little say in the governments nearest them.
In cities run by governors’ appointees after decades of decline, Michiganders whose ancestors fled the segregated South for factory jobs and the right to vote weigh the abstract value of autonomy versus the palpable comfort of a stable community.
Joe Harris, 69, embodies the conflict. His family left Alabama in the 1930s after the Ku Klux Klan threatened an uncle for refusing to let a white man cut in a line. Eight decades later, the longtime government auditor unilaterally ran Benton Harbor, Michigan, where the state installed him after the majority-black city failed to free itself from fiscal distress.
“I understand their frustration with this concept of, ‘Well, you’re taking away our democratic rights,’” Harris said. “But what’s the alternative, especially in Detroit?”
Governor Rick Snyder, a white Republican, yesterday named Orr, an African-American bankruptcy lawyer from Washington, as Detroit’s emergency manager. The city is 82 percent black with a history of racial migration and strife.
The city was an industrial powerhouse with 1.8 million residents in the 1950s. It has withered to about 700,000 people in a sparsely populated 139 square miles (36,000 hectares) as the auto industry contracted and revenue plunged.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/business/bloomberg/article/Half-of-Michigan-Blacks-Lose-Local-Power-in-4357563.php#ixzz2Ncsvas9y