Dearborn protesters join a nationwide movement dismantling symbols of racism that exist in their communities.
DEARBORN, MI — Along Michigan Avenue where a statue of Dearborn’s former segregationist mayor Orville Hubbard once stood, hundreds of protesters now march to declare that “Black lives matter.”
Statues of figures with racist histories are coming down all across America as protesters demand an end to systemic racism.
Dearborn protester Karrie Glowacki, 43, was aware of Hubbard’s racist past long before the current uprisings in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
“My grandfather was a Dearborn police officer,” Glowacki told The ‘Gander. “I thought [the statue was] a disgrace to the city. [I was] very pleased when it was removed.”
She’s among the voices continuing to call for an end to systemic racism and discrimation throughout Michigan.
Locals familiar with Hubbard’s past say even though his statue was removed, it’s important to remember his place in history.
“Orville Hubbard is obviously a part of Dearborn history and shouldn’t just be forgotten,” David L. Good, author of “Orvie: The Dictator of Dearborn,” told the Yemeni American News. “People need a reminder that he was a part of the history and continue to come to terms with that.”
The Story of Orville Hubbard
Orville Hubbard served as mayor of Dearborn for nearly 40 years. Born in Union City, MI in 1903, he was elected to his first of 15 mayoral terms when he was just 39 years old.
History tells of a man who referred to proposed low-income housing projects as “Black slums.” While the mayor never said he believed in white superiority, he made it clear that segregation was his preferred method of handling an influx of Southern Black people migrating into the region. His popular “Keep Dearborn Clean” campaign was a dog whistle to “keep Dearborn white,” according to Michigan State University archival records.
The city erected a statue in the late mayor’s honor in 1989, almost a decade after he died from a stroke. The likeness could be seen by passing motorists on Michigan Avenue until its controversial relocation in 2015.
The City of Dearborn, claiming ownership of the statue at the time, relocated it to the Dearborn Historical Museum after residents called for its removal from the busy street.
Now the City of Dearborn says they do not own the statue and that it has released the monument to Hubbard’s surviving family, who say it will stand at his gravesite in Union City.
Not Just Dearborn
Similar statue removal efforts are underway across the state and country. In downtown Detroit, a bust of Christopher Columbus was removed from an outdoor installation.
“When I looked at some of the violence around the country, and in particular you got people with arms gathering around a Columbus statue in Philadelphia arguing with people. I thought we don’t need this,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said. “We should have a conversation as a community as to what is an appropriate place for such a statue.”
Michiganders say they are dedicated to making change at home.
“It is my honor to march,” Glowacki said. “Things have to change.”