By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee Michigan Regional Office is calling for the removal of the statue of former Dearborn Mayor from in front of the former City Hall.
The 10-foot monument represents impact and time in Dearborn.
ADC-Michigan Director and attorney Fatina Abdrabboh expressed her reasons for the removal of the statue in an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press.
To others, including African Americans and other minorities, Hubbard was “an unapologetic segregationist who used his influence to vilify African Americans and stifle their self-determination,” she wrote. “During Hubbard’s 36 years as mayor, the city of Dearborn was accused of encouraging intolerance in various sectors.”
The discussion comes after the recent church shooting in Charleston, S.C., last month which also led to the South Carolina House voting 94-20 July 9 to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds.
“Following the recent murder of nine innocent people in a church in Charleston, S.C., top retailers like eBay, Amazon and others stopped the sale of Confederate flags and other relics that serve as a reminder of the racial intolerance that plagued our country,” Abdrabboh wrote. “While we may not have a Confederate flag waving atop our buildings, this larger-than-life statue of Hubbard memorializes and celebrates a man who symbolizes the same kind of intolerance for many.”
Hubbard served as Dearborn mayor from 1942 through 1978 when he helped build Camp Dearborn.
“In Dearborn, we want to engage in productive conversations that reflect the progress we’ve made as a city, build on the strong relationships we’ve cultivated over the past four decades, and keep moving all of us forward in a successful direction,” a city spokesperson said in a statement. “We don’t want the statue, installed in 1989 in honor of man who was last mayor 40 years ago, to become a distraction from the positive stories of our community today.”
The city of Dearborn also acknowledged the situation in South Carolina.
“Some people who cannot engage directly in the issue that has arisen in South Carolina want to be relevant by initiating similar discussions closer to home,” the statement read. “It is not wrong to raise the issue but it should be reviewed on its own and not treated as part of a very different situation.”
The city is also currently working on a new location for the statue due to the Artspace lofts project presently underway.
“We’ve already been thinking about the disposition of the statue, since it can’t stay at the City Hall property, which is being transformed from a government building into an exciting live, work and exhibit space for artists, and which will become a regional destination for visitors,” the statement read.
The Hubbard statue was created and displayed through a grassroots fundraising campaign. It also included small donations from residents who wanted to recognize Hubbard’s contributions to city.
“This is a statue of a man based on his service to his community, not a symbol of a movement that sought to divide the United States,” the statement read. “It is our intent to engage community members in determining the best course that respects the intent of the donors and the persons who rightly challenge the potentially conflicting message it could represent.”
Abdrabboh urged the city to think about the effect the statue has on the community.
“As a city that boasts diversity, with a growing black population and internationally recognized Middle Eastern community, it raises the question of the appropriateness of the statue in its present location,” Abdrabboh wrote. “We understand that Hubbard and his statue are aspects of our city’s history, but that is exactly what they need to be viewed as — history — which is not always without shame.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at email@example.com.)