Jerome Cavanagh

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Jerome Cavanagh
Jerome Cavanagh (12932052063a).jpg
64th Mayor of Detroit
In office
January 2, 1962 January 5, 1970
Preceded by Louis Miriani
Succeeded by Roman Gribbs
Personal details
Jerome Patrick Cavanagh

(1928-06-16)June 16, 1928
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
DiedNovember 27, 1979(1979-11-27) (aged 51)
Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
Resting placeMount Elliot Cemetery
Detroit, Michigan
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s)Mary Helen Martin

Jerome Patrick Cavanagh (June 16, 1928 – November 27, 1979) was an American politician who served as the mayor of Detroit, Michigan from 1962 to 1970. Initially seen as another John F. Kennedy, his reputation was doomed by the 1967 riots. He was the first mayor to reside at Manoogian Mansion, donated to the city by the industrial baron Alex Manoogian. [1]

In many countries, a mayor is the highest-ranking official in a municipal government such as that of a city or a town.

Detroit Largest city in Michigan

Detroit is the largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Michigan, the largest United States city on the United States–Canada border, and the seat of Wayne County. The municipality of Detroit had a 2017 estimated population of 673,104, making it the 23rd-most populous city in the United States. The metropolitan area, known as Metro Detroit, is home to 4.3 million people, making it the second-largest in the Midwest after the Chicago metropolitan area. Regarded as a major cultural center, Detroit is known for its contributions to music and as a repository for art, architecture and design.

John F. Kennedy 35th president of the United States

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, commonly referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician and journalist who served as the 35th president of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. He served at the height of the Cold War, and the majority of his presidency dealt with managing relations with the Soviet Union. A member of the Democratic Party, Kennedy represented Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate prior to becoming president.


Early life and family

Jerome P. Cavanagh was born on June 16, 1928, the son of a boilermaker at Ford Motor Company. [2] He attended the University of Detroit, earning an undergraduate degree in 1950 and a law degree in 1954, and practiced law in Detroit after graduation. [2] He was active in Democratic Party politics while attending school, and afterward served in low-level appointed positions as an administrative assistant at the Michigan State Fair Authority and as a member of the Metropolitan Airport Board of Zoning Appeals. [2] Cavanagh was a Roman Catholic. He is the brother of Mike Cavanagh, a former Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court (1983-2014) and father of eight children, among whom are Mark Jerome Cavanagh, currently a judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals since 1989, David Peter Cavanagh and Christopher Francis Cavanagh (both former Wayne County Commissioners and Philip Cavanagh a former member of the Michigan House of Representatives.

Boilermaker profession

A boilermaker is a trained tradesperson who produces steel fabrications from plates and tubes.

Ford Motor Company American automobile manufacturer

Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker that has its main headquarter in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. It was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. The company sells automobiles and commercial vehicles under the Ford brand and most luxury cars under the Lincoln brand. Ford also owns Brazilian SUV manufacturer Troller, an 8% stake in Aston Martin of the United Kingdom and a 32% stake in Jiangling Motors. It also has joint-ventures in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and Russia. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is controlled by the Ford family; they have minority ownership but the majority of the voting power.

Democratic Party (United States) political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

Mayoral campaign

In his first campaign ever, the 33-year-old Cavanagh entered the 1961 Detroit mayoral race, one of eleven candidates in the nonpartisan primary opposing incumbent Louis Miriani. [2] None of these candidates was seen as serious opposition to Miriani, who had an enormous amount of institutional support and had easily won the mayoral race four years earlier. [2] Cavanagh ran second to Miriani in the primary, earning a slot in the general election, but received less than half the primary votes Miriani did. [2] However, Cavanagh campaigned relentlessly, criticizing Miriani's handling of Detroit's financial affairs and race relations with the city's African-American community. [2] And indeed, many in the black community believed Miriani condoned police brutality. [2] On election day, black voters turned out in force, and Cavanagh stunned political observers by defeating incumbent Miriani. [2]

Louis Miriani American mayor

Louis C. Miriani was an American politician who served as mayor of Detroit, Michigan (1957–62).

Cavanagh got off to a popular start as mayor, appointing a reformer to be chief of police and implementing an affirmative action program for most city agencies. [2] Unlike Richard J. Daley, who resisted forced implementation of the American civil rights movement, Jerry Cavanagh welcomed Martin Luther King Jr. to Detroit, and marched with him in June 1963 down Woodward Avenue in the 100,000 strong March for Freedom. [3]

Police Law enforcement body

The police are a constituted body of persons empowered by a state to enforce the law, to protect the lives, liberty and possessions of citizens, and to prevent crime and civil disorder. Their powers include the power of arrest and the legitimized use of force. The term is most commonly associated with the police forces of a sovereign state that are authorized to exercise the police power of that state within a defined legal or territorial area of responsibility. Police forces are often defined as being separate from the military and other organizations involved in the defense of the state against foreign aggressors; however, gendarmerie are military units charged with civil policing. Police forces are usually public sector services, funded through taxes.

Affirmative action, also known as reservation in India and Nepal, positive discrimination / action in the United Kingdom, and employment equity in Canada and South Africa, is the policy of promoting the education and employment of members of groups that are known to have previously suffered from discrimination. Historically and internationally, support for affirmative action has sought to achieve goals such as bridging inequalities in employment and pay, increasing access to education, promoting diversity, and redressing apparent past wrongs, harms, or hindrances.

Richard J. Daley American politician

Richard Joseph Daley was an American politician who served as the 48th Mayor of Chicago for a total of 21 years beginning on April 20, 1955, until his death on December 20, 1976. Daley was the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee for 23 years, holding both positions until his death in office in 1976. Daley was Chicago's third consecutive mayor from the working-class, heavily Irish American Bridgeport neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, where he lived his entire life. Daley is remembered for doing much to avoid the declines that some other "rust belt" cities—like Cleveland, Buffalo and Detroit—experienced during the same period. He had a strong base of support in Chicago's Irish Catholic community, and he was treated by national politicians such as Lyndon B. Johnson as a pre-eminent Irish American, with special connections to the Kennedy family. Daley played a major role in the history of the Democratic Party, especially with his support of John F. Kennedy in 1960 and of Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Daley is the father of Richard M. Daley, also a former mayor of Chicago, William M. Daley, a former United States Secretary of Commerce, and John P. Daley, a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. While many members of Daley's administration were charged with corruption and convicted, Daley himself was never charged with corruption.

Cavanagh was successful in receiving money from the U.S. federal government through the Model Cities Program. [3] New skyscrapers were built downtown. The Model Cities Program was a key component of President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society and War on Poverty. Begun in 1966, it operated five-year-long experiments in 150 cities to develop new antipoverty programs and alternative forms of municipal government. The ambitious federal urban aid program succeeded in fostering a new generation of mostly black urban leaders. Detroit was one of the largest Model Cities projects. Mayor Cavanagh was the only elected official to serve on Johnson's task force. Detroit received widespread acclaim for its leadership in the program, which used $490 million to try to turn a nine-square-mile section of the city (with 134,000 inhabitants) into a model city. The city's political and business elite, and city planners, along with the black middle class, wanted the federal funding to assist the economic growth of the entire city. They sought to protect the central business district property values from nearby slums and to construct new revenue-generating structures. However local community organizers and civil rights activists rallied poor residents in opposition to these plans. They said federal renewal funding should be used to replace deteriorating housing stock, whether with new public housing or low-cost housing built by private developers. The Model City program was terminated in Detroit and nationwide in 1974 after major race riots in most of its target cities. [4]

Model Cities Program

The Model Cities Program was an element of U.S. President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and War on Poverty. In 1966, new legislation led to the more than 150 five-year-long, Model Cities experiments to develop new antipoverty programs and alternative forms of municipal government. The ambitious federal urban aid program succeeded in fostering a new generation of mostly black urban leaders. However, the nation moved to the right after the urban riots of the late 1960s. This led to a shift in goals to bricks-and-mortar housing and building projects. The program ended in 1974.

Lyndon B. Johnson 36th president of the United States

Lyndon Baines Johnson, often referred to as LBJ, was an American politician who served as the 36th president of the United States from 1963 to 1969. Formerly the 37th vice president of the United States from 1961 to 1963, he assumed the presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A Democrat from Texas, Johnson also served as a United States Representative and as the Majority Leader in the United States Senate. Johnson is one of only four people who have served in all four federal elected positions.

The Great Society was a set of domestic programs in the United States launched by Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964–65. The main goal was the total elimination of poverty and racial injustice. President Johnson first used the term "Great Society" during a speech at Ohio University, then unveiled the program in greater detail at an appearance at University of Michigan.

Well-informed observers believed that Detroit had extinguished the embers of resentment left over from the 1943 Detroit Race Riot.

For example, Fortune magazine commented: [5]

the most significant is the progress Detroit has made in race relations. The grim specter of the 1943 riots never quite fades from the minds of city leaders. As much as anything else, that specter has enabled the power structure to overcome tenacious prejudice and give the Negro community a role in the consensus probably unparalleled in any major American city.

Negroes in Detroit have deep roots in the community, compared with the more transient population of Negro ghettos in Harlem and elsewhere in the North. ... more than 40% of the negro population own their own houses.

Nor was Detroit doing so badly economically. The National Observer commented: [5]

The evidence, both statistical and visual, is everywhere. Retail sales are up dramatically. Earnings are higher. Unemployment is lower. People are putting new aluminum sidings on their homes, new carpets on the floor, new cars in the garage.

Some people are forsaking the suburbs and returning to the city. Physically Detroit has acquired freshness and vitality. Acres of slums have been razed, and steel and glass apartments, angular and lonely in the vacated landscape, have sprung up in their place. In the central business district, hard by the Detroit River, severely rectangular skyscrapers—none more than 5 years old—jostle uncomfortably with the gilded behemoths of another age.

Accustomed to years of adversity, to decades of drabness and civil immobility, Detroiters are naturally exhilarated. They note with particular pride that Detroit has been removed from the Federal Bureau of Employment Security's classification of 'an area with substantial and persistent unemployment.'

In the face of this optimism, Cavanagh was reelected overwhelmingly in 1965. [3] In 1966, Cavanagh was elected president of both the United States Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities, the only mayor to hold both posts at the same time. [2]

1967 riots

However, deeper problems existed under the surface.

After World War II, the automobile industry, requiring more lateral space than was available in a city, and desiring to avoid city taxes, decentralized its operations. As with other cities, Detroiters were leaving Detroit for its suburbs by the thousands by 1967. Some 22,000 residents, mostly white, moved to the suburbs in 1966 alone, following new auto plants and new housing, or using the newly constructed Interstate system to commute into Detroit. [ citation needed ]

Detroit faced serious financial trouble. Cavanagh had inherited a $28 million budget gap in 1962.[ citation needed ] To close the gap, and to pay for the new programs he wanted to implement, Cavanagh had pushed through the legislature income and commuter taxes for Detroit, but these proved unpopular with residents and businesses.

On July 23, 1967, a police attempt to break up an illegal party escalated into what would be known as the 12th Street Riot. Feeling a large police presence would make things worse, Cavanagh acted slowly to stop the riots. They lasted for five days, killed 43 people, made over 5,000 people homeless, and required two divisions of federal paratroopers to be put down; they were the worst of the four hundred or so riots that American cities experienced in the 1960s. Cavanagh himself had to admit in July 1967, "Today we stand amidst the ashes of our hopes. We hoped against hope that what we had been doing was enough to prevent a riot. It was not enough."[ citation needed ]

The prior summer in 1966, a potential riot that began on Kercheval Street on the east side of Detroit, was successfully prevented at its inception. This, in addition to the generally accepted view that Detroit and its reputation as a “Model City, led to the belief that Detroit might not suffer the same race-related troubles many other cities had. Thus, the 1967 came as a complete surprise and shock to Cavanagh and many other city officials. In addition, Cavanagh was procedurally limited in his ability to control the riots as it was the Governor’s ( George Romney) role to ask for Federal assistance once it appeared local resources might not be sufficient. However, Romney was seen as a potential Republican Presidential opponent of President Lyndon B. Johnson and there is considerable evidence that the delay by Johnson in sending troops was partly based on an effort to stymie Romney. By the time troops were called in, it was too late. Cavanagh believed that a prompt Federal response may very well have greatly reduced the severity of the riots. [2] Cavanagh chose not to run for reelection in 1969. [2]

Later career

The latter part of Cavanagh's second term was also difficult for him personally, in addition to the pressure from the aftermath of the riots. Cavanagh ran for the United States Senate in 1966 but lost in the Democratic primary to former governor G. Mennen Williams. [2] In July 1967, Cavanagh's wife Mary Helen filed for separation, and the couple split the custody of their eight children. [6] In October, Cavanagh counter-sued, [7] and in 1968 the couple went through a contentious and public divorce. [8]

After Cavanagh left office, he returned to his private law practice in Detroit and was also one of the first adjunct professors at the newly created Public Policy Department ( later renamed The Gerald Ford Public Policy Institute) at the University of Michigan. [2] In 1974, Cavanagh again ran for office, this time for Governor, but lost in the primary election to Democrat Sander Levin, who later lost in the general election to Republican William Milliken. [2] It was Cavanagh's last attempt at political office.

Cavanagh died of a heart attack on November 27, 1979 at St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky while visiting a client in that city. He was 51 years old. He is buried in Mt. Elliott Cemetery in Detroit.

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1962 in Michigan

Events from the year 1962 in Michigan.

1966 in Michigan

Events from the year 1966 in Michigan.

1967 in Michigan

Events from the year 1967 in Michigan.

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  1. "The History of Manoogian Mansion". The Michigan Chronicle. 2016-10-15. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Joseph Turrini (Nov–Dec 1999). "Phooie on Louie: African American Detroit and the Election of Jerry Cavanagh" (PDF). Michigan History.
  3. 1 2 3 "Former Detroit Mayor Cavanagh Dies". The Windsor Star. Nov 28, 1979.
  4. Sidney Fine, Violence in the Model City: The Cavanagh Administration, Race Relations, and the Detroit Riot of 1967 (1989)
  5. 1 2 B. J. Widick (1989), Detroit: City of Race and Class Violence (revised ed.), Wayne State University Press, pp. 156–159, ISBN   0-8143-2104-6
  6. "Cavanaghs File to Separate". Lawrence Journal-World. Jul 19, 1967.
  7. "Detroit's Mayor Seeking Divorce". Lawrence Journal-World. Oct 26, 1967.
  8. "Cavanaghs Fight it out in Public". The Windsor Star. Jul 17, 1968.

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Louis Miriani
Mayor of Detroit
Succeeded by
Roman Gribbs