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Detroit center replaces name of ex-mayor with racist past

Gina Peoples, right, of Detroit, a volunteer with The Parade Company, takes a selfie in front of the newly named TCF Center in downtown Detroit Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. Politicians, executives and VIPs gathered at what had been known as Cobo Center since 1960 for the renaming announcement. (Todd McInturf /Detroit News via AP)

By JEFF KAROUB
Associated Press
DETROIT — The home of Detroit’s annual auto show and other major events has officially changed its name to the TCF Center and moved on from its original name, which honored a former mayor known for racist and segregationist policies, officials announced Tuesday.
Officials said the Cobo Center name is no more, making good on the February announcement of a $33 million naming rights deal with Chemical Bank, which is now a division of TCF Bank.
The name change will save taxpayers millions of dollars, move the riverfront facility toward being financially self-sustaining by 2024 and provide money for major capital projects, they said.
It had been owned and operated by the city until 2009, when the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority was created.
The move also purges a negative aspect of Detroit’s history: Albert Cobo, who served as mayor from 1950 to 1957, sought to keep blacks out of predominantly white neighborhoods. The convention center opened on the Detroit River waterfront in 1960, three years after Cobo died.
“From an image standpoint in the city, state and nation, being able to remove that negative connotation, which has been there for so many years, adds to the importance of this great announcement,” authority chairman Larry Alexander told The Associated Press.
Vestiges of racism and intolerance are slowly being moved and removed in Michigan and other states. In the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, a statue of former Mayor Orville Hubbard, who spent decades trying to keep the city all white, was socked away for more than a year after leaders decided it didn’t belong outside a new City Hall. The Hubbard statue now stands beside a small museum.
Sometimes the catalysts are much more recent: Last year, the University of Mississippi removed donor Ed Meek’s name from the school now known as the “School of Journalism and New Media.” Meek had posted photos of black women online and suggested that they exemplified problems threatening the local economy.