Politics & Prejudices
Conyers' last stand?
Big John faces challenges in redistricting, a field of candidates and his own diminished profile.
Published: August 1, 2012
Anderson's life story mirrors that of many Detroiters of his generation, black and white. He and his dad moved here from Tennessee in 1969, after a divorce. Dad got a job on the line at Ford. Glenn followed him to the factory after high school.
Anderson took classes at Wayne State, but never quite graduated. He got involved in the United Auto Workers union, and eventually, in Westland city politics, and served nine years on City Council, where he helped establish the town's first library. Then came three terms in the Michigan House of Representatives. Six years ago, he challenged an incumbent Republican for the state Senate. He was told that was a mistake. But that fall, Anderson became the only Democrat in years to defeat a sitting GOP state Senator. Two years ago, in the biggest Republican landslide anyone can remember, he won re-election in the same district with an increased margin.
His politics are a bit more fiscally conservative than some Democrats, but when asked his political heroes, he says with evident sincerity, "Bobby Kennedy and Barack Obama."
Detroit has had two black congressmen since 1954. Now, Hansen Clarke in the neighboring 14th district seems to be in trouble. There are those who say that it just wouldn't do for Michigan to be left without a single African-American congressman.
The Free Press seemed to hint at that with its bizarre endorsement of Conyers, admitting that "his energy and effectiveness are clearly on a downward slope." Henderson explained that, in part, the paper was "endorsing him today because of who he was ..."
Does that mean the Detroit Tigers should play Al Kaline in right field because of who the 77-year-old Hall of Famer once was? You could make a strong case that Detroit is paralyzed from building anything new on many levels because of hang-ups over what the city once was, and of stubborn insistence on trying to make that work again. It won't, it can't; we all need to consider something new.
"Lord, I'm not what I should be," they say in some churches. "I'm not what I'm going to be, but at least I'm not what I was."
We'd do well to remember that when we vote.
Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
> Email Jack Lessenberry