Henry Stallings, July 2nd, 2015

Title

Henry Stallings, July 2nd, 2015

Subject

Austin, Richard
Conant Gardens—Detroit—Michigan
Detroit Pershing High School
Engler, John
Lansing—Michigan
Looting
Michigan State Senate
Renaissance Center—Detroit
Riverfront—Detroit—Michigan
Stallings, Edsel

Description

In this interview, former Michigan state senator Stallings discusses growing up in Detroit and shares details about his integrated neighborhood and schools growing up. In addition to recounting his memories of the unrest in 1967, Stallings speaks at length about local and state politics, including details of his tenure in the state legislature. Finally, Stallings shares his hopes for Detroit’s future.

Video

Narrator/Interviewee's Name

Henry Stallings

Brief Biography

Henry Stallings was born December 30, 1950 in San Diego, California and moved to Detroit as an infant. He grew up in the Conant Gardens neighborhood and has been an active member of the Detroit community. From 1994-1998 he served as a State Senator in the Michigan legislature, representing 400,000 citizens of Detroit. He currently lives in the Rivertown neighborhood of Detroit.

Interviewer's Name

Lillian Wilson

Interview Place

Rivertown Assisted Living, Detroit, MI

Date

07/02/2015

Interview Length

41:52

Transcriptionist

Noah Levinson

Transcription

LW: Today is Thursday, July 2, 2015. This is the interview of Henry Stallings by Lily Wilson. We are at Rivertown Assisted Living in Detroit, Michigan. This interview is for the Detroit Historical Society and the Detroit 1967 Oral History Project. Henry, can you start by telling me your birthdate?

HS: Twelve, thirty, [December 30], 1950.

LW: And where were you born?

HS: Where was I born? In San Diego, California.

LW: So when did you come to Detroit?

HS: In 1950.

LW: And about how old were you then?

HS: About 16 [note: Stallings was 16 in 1967].

LW: When you moved to Detroit, where did you live? What neighborhood?

HS: In Conant Gardens. The first black subdivision in the United States.

LW: Do you remember the street name?

HS: Joseph Campau. 18630 Joseph Campau.

LW: Awesome, okay. And what do you remember about July of 1967, when you were living in Detroit?

HS: Well in 1968 [sic], Detroit was a beautiful town. I remember my family and I were coming back from Grand Haven, Michigan. It was on a Sunday, I remember that. And as we’re coming back [to] Detroit I remember, when we were approaching, there was like a big cloud of smoke in the sky. Couldn’t really tell what was going on. So I said, “Dad, what’s happening? Where’s all that smoke coming from?” As we got closer to town we could smell the smell of burning smoke and everything, and my father would say that according to the radio that was going on at the time that there was a riot going on in the city of Detroit. As we approached it closer we could see the riot. Everything was aflame. Buildings were being burned down. I remember we came off on Davison Avenue and we came off on Davison Avenue and Linwood, which was right in the center of the fire of the riots. We could see people looting and burning and stealing stuff. It was a terrible thing.

LW: About how old were you at that time, in July of ‘67.

HS: About 16 years old.

LW: Okay, so you were about 16 years old during that summer, and your family was living on Joseph Campeau at the address that you gave us. What did your mom and dad do for a living?

HS:  Well my dad worked for the City of Detroit.

LW: What did he do?

HS: He was—earlier he worked for the State of Michigan. For the Treasury Department. He was a treasury employee.

LW: And your mom—did she?

HS: Was a homemaker.

LW: She was a homemaker okay. And how many brothers and sisters did you have?

HS: There was six of us.

LW: Wow.

HS: A bunch of us.

LW: And what was it like growing up in Detroit during those years, after you moved here from San Diego?

HS: Well, I went to high school and everything here in Detroit.

LW: What high school?

HS: Pershing High School.

LW: What was that like?

HS: It was an awesome experience.

LW: Awful?

HS: Awesome.

LW: The opposite of awful, it was awesome. What made it awesome?

HS: It was a school where everybody appeared to challenge each other educationally, athletically. Because I ran track, played basketball.

LW: What was your event?

HS: In 1968 I was about 18 years old, so I was old enough to really get involved in sports, the Future Teachers Society. I was involved in just about every organizations in high school.

LW: And what did you go on to do? What was your profession after that?

HS: You talking about after high school?

LW: After high school. Yeah, what did you do after high school?

HS: After high school I went to college at Oakland Community College, and then I went on to Western Michigan [University] where I majored in Business. And after that I went to—I worked for a company. I worked part-time for a supermarket. And then after I got out of high school [sic] I went to work for the Xerox corporation. That was my first real, real job after college. From there I ended up being the number one marketing executive in the country for Xerox.

LW: Congratulations, that’s a big thing.

HS: And I travelled all around the world with them in corporate jets and stuff

LW: Wow.

HS: So it was a great experience. I learned business and everything.

LW: When did you retire?

HS: When did I retire?

LW: When, yeah.

HS: Well, actually I did that until it was time for me to—I went into the legislature, I ran for office and won.

LW: What office did you run for?

HS: State Senator.

LW: Oh wow.

HS: So I became a State Senator and worked in Lansing. So I had quite an experience there.

LW: I can imagine. That’s incredible. I want to ask you more about that in a minute, but I want to go back to the late 1960s when you were a high school student.

HS: Okay.

LW: What was your high school like in terms of the racial breakdown of students?

HS: Well, I went to Pershing High School, so it was like, 50 percent white, 50 percent black. It wasn’t like it was today, segregated or anything like that. Everybody got along, you know.

LW: Were you friends with white students?

HS: A ton of them.

LW: Wow, okay.

HS: I had a bunch of friends growing up in high school and we all got along.

LW: And did you stay friends with any of them throughout the rest of your life?

HS: Yeah.

LW: You did, okay. Do you think that was a typical experience for there to be white and black students as friends in your high school?

HS: Absolutely.

LW: In the neighborhood that you grew up in, on Joseph Campeau, how was that, in terms of the racial breakdown of the neighborhood?

HS: It was the same thing, you know. It was sharply divided. There was one area of town where the Polacks lived. And the other side of the town was where the Irish and Chaldeans, so it was quite interesting. And then you cross over John R—you had Jews that lived over there, you had people that were of ethnic backgrounds.

LW: On the other side of John R, did you say?

HS: Yeah, on the other side of John R.

LW: Other side of John R. So you noticed that there was a divide.

HS: And you didn’t go over there.

LW: What would happen if you went over there?

HS: Depending on what time of day it was, you could get beat up or chased back across Seven Mile.

LW: By who?

HS: By the people that lived over there.

LW: So the neighborhood that you grew up in was more diverse in terms of black and white.

HS: Oh yeah.

LW: And what would you describe the class breakdown. Was it mainly middle class people? Working class people? Upper middle class?

HS: They were all working class people.

LW: All working class.

HS: There wasn’t anybody, like, rich. If they were we didn’t know they were [laughter]. I didn’t know they were. I didn’t know that I was in poverty. I never knew that as a kid.

LW: Were you?

HS: No.

LW: In July of 1967, you said you were driving back from Grand Haven with your family.

HS: Right. When the riots started.

LW: So what did you feel? You had been at this very diverse—sounds like a good experience in high school in terms of racial—relationships between different students of different backgrounds at your high school. So when you were driving back from Grand Haven that day, was it really the first time that you have thought about the possibility of there being some sort of violent reaction based on tension?

HS: Not really. I couldn’t even understand why they was even having a riot. I was 18 years old. Why even have a riot? And then we get into town, to see tanks rolling up and down, it was really a trip.

LW: I bet.

HS: You’d see people were rioting and stealing stuff.

LW: So what’d you think? How did you feel?

HS: It was crazy. I mean, we went down Livernois and there’s a place, I always remember this, at Livernois and—I want to say—I’m trying to think of the street at the time—

LW: That’s okay.

HS: It was Outer Drive.

LW: Outer Drive.

HS: Right at the corner of Outer Drive and Livernois, somebody drove up and busted out the window at Outer Drive and Seven Mile and literally stole an organ out of the front window, at Livernois and Outer Drive.

LW: You saw someone doing that?

HS: Yeah, put it in their truck and drive off with it.

LW: Were you confused as to why they were doing that?

HS: Yeah, I didn’t even understand why they would do all this rioting. It didn’t make any sense. Stealing TVs and soap powder and stuff.

LW: Why do you think people were doing that?

HS: Well they didn’t need an organ. Yeah, I couldn’t understand why he was stealing an organ in the middle of the day. What are you going to do with it? But I wasn’t old enough to realize it. That eventually they were going to sell it.

LW: Why do you think people were stealing things like TVs and organs?

HS: Probably to better themselves, that’s what a riot is all about.

LW: What do you think a riot is all about?

HS: They were trying to rectify their economic situation by stealing from others and burning down buildings and looting all that kind of stuff, it helped them to, maybe better their financial condition. I didn’t really understand it, ‘til I got older.

LW: When you asked your dad about why people were doing this, what was going on, what did he say to you? How did he explain it to you and your brothers and sisters?

HS: He explained it to us, “Stop taking those pictures before you get us killed.” [Laughter]

LW: So you were taking photographs?

HS: Somewhere I got photographs of the whole event.

LW: Where are those photographs?

HS: I got to find them. I wish I had them. Same thing on Linwood and—busted into the drugstore and stealing stuff, I got pictures of all of that.

LW: You had the camera with you on that Sunday.

HS: I was a camera nut.

LW: So you liked taking pictures?

HS: I had all kind of pictures.

LW: So you had your camera with you when you were coming back from family vacation, from Grand Haven. And you took pictures from the back seat of the car I’m assuming?

HS: Front seat.

LW: Oh you got to sit in the front seat.

HS: Leaning out the car taking pictures. I wish I could find those pictures.

LW: I wish you could too.

HS: I’ll always remember coming up off the Davison Freeway, right there at Davison and the Lodge. Right there, broke into that drug store right there on the corner. And when they broke in, they took the windows off and would go in just stealing stuff. It was a trip.

LW: And there you are taking pictures. So, dad was upset that you were leaning out the car window taking pictures.

HS: He didn’t care. I was a photography nut back then.

LW: He knew. But he was worried that as time when on—

HS: That I might get in trouble.

LW: That you might get in trouble. And how far was your house from that area where you were taking pictures and seeing all this stuff?

HS: Well at Davison and—not that far. Because you take Davison, go all the way back down Davison and come up at the Lodge, and make a left and go straight down Joseph Campeau, I was at the last block of Joseph Campeau in Hamtramck, you know.

LW: Were you worried that people were going to start looting and rioting in your neighborhood?

HS: No. They didn’t do nothing in my neighborhood.

LW: Why do you think that was?

HS: Because there was nothing. What were they going to take in our neighborhood? A vegetable garden? [Laughter] A dog?

LW: So there wasn’t enough business there that they may have stolen things from.

HS: There’s no value to come to our neighborhood and do any rioting or anything.

LW: What kind of businesses were there?

HS: Gas stations, stores. I used to work at the Fruit Ranch at Seven Mile and Conant.

LW: What did you do there?

HS: It was a fruit market, so I worked in a fruit market, and then I worked at a cleaners. Actually, I worked at every business in that block—as a kid. I worked at a meat market, I learned how to be a butcher. I learned how to speak Serbian, as a kid, because all the Serbians that lived in the neighborhood used to come into the store, so I learned to say, “Kako si dobro,” so I speak to them, they would order a hamburger or neck bones, or some kind of food, cut it up for them and stuff—steaks, pork chops, so I learned how to make all of that.

LW: You certainly experienced a lot of different racial and ethnic groups.

HS: Absolutely. Every Saturday, I would learn how to—they would come from all around and could speak Polish, Serbian, a whole ethnic mix of people. I didn’t know at the time, their ethnicity, I didn’t really realize that as a kid, that this person is from Serbia, I didn’t even know what that was. What’s a Serbian?

LW: How do you think that that experience shaped your decision to go into politics later on in your life?

HS: Well later on in my life it helped me to understand that people are different. They have very diverse backgrounds, and they come from different ways of life, and eat different foods, and certainly had different makeups, and that no two people are alike. And then growing up, when I was in the AFS—American Field Service—in high school, they were in that organization. I didn’t realize that they all came from different ethnic backgrounds. See, when you grow up as a kid everybody is of a different ethnic background. You don’t know it, you just know they come from somewhere else, but they become friends with you and you don’t know that—you don’t know ‘til you get older that you grew up with a guy from Turkey, and that they’re at home eating different meals; they don’t even eat the same foods you eat.

LW: Did you ever go to your friends houses?

HS: All the time.

LW: And you ate different foods?

HS: Yep.

LW: Turkish food?

HS: You don’t even know what it was. All kinds of crazy stuff.

LW: There were a lot of interesting things you got to experience—

HS: Oh yeah.  

LW: As a child and as a teenager. Do you remember, back at school, after July of '67, did the teachers or the kids in school talk about what had happened and all the violence?

HS: Not really, it wasn’t really that big of a deal. You know it happened, but nobody really talked about it, like we didn’t go to class and they say, “Well, we having a riot today”—it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

LW: So you weren’t worried about there being rioting in your neighborhood.

HS: No, not at all.

LW: What was it like living in Detroit after the riots? What did you see, what did you notice, what did you hear?

HS: Well you noticed everybody started having, like New Detroit became a major thrust in the community.

LW: What was that all about?

HS: New Detroit was like an organization that—see we had a guy whose father was the [deputy] mayor, Mr. Green, Gregory Green’s father was the deputy mayor. He lived over on Mitchell. So that’s how we became somewhat politically active. We knew him and so his father lived a block away from us and he’s the only one we knew that was a political figure, because he had a brand new car all the time he used to drive [laughter]. He was the mayor, I always remember that, Gregory Green’s father—Walter Green, drove a brand new Chevrolet every day, back and forth to work, we always everybody knew that, that that was the mayor’s car.

LW: Right, he was the deputy mayor under Roman Gribbs.

HS: Roman Gribbs, yeah, during the Gribbs administration.

LW: Did he inspire you at all to go into politics?

HS: Not at all, I was still young. I didn’t know nothing about politics because I was just a 16, 17-year-old kid, but we knew who he was. I don’t even know if I voted for him or not, I don’t think I was old enough to vote.

LW: Maybe not.

HS: It wasn’t ‘til I got into college that I became politically active. I became the student government president in college. I won the election there—when I was the student government president, they wrote about me.

LW: At Western Michigan?

HS: Because as student government president—I ran for Congress, in 1968, and I almost won the election and they wrote a story about me in the paper.

LW: That must have felt really good to get recognition.

HS: Yeah. That was my first foray into politics.

LW: After you worked for Xerox, tell me about the work that you did for the State of Michigan.

HS: For the State of Michigan?

LW: I’m really actually curious about what your race was like to become elected. What was that like?

HS: Well, it was interesting because, I know I was real popular and well-known, I never thought that I could win a seat like that, but I did and then I took office and that was really an experience—working in the legislature, you know making laws every day that affected people. That was quite an experience.

LW: What were the race relations like in the state government? Can you tell me about how many black people were there, how many white people, how many women, how many men?

HS: When I worked in the legislature there was 98 members of the legislature, and we fought every single day just to try to make sure that the laws that would pass would not impact the people that were in government. It was a sad thing because the Republicans were really in charge, and a guy named John Engler, to me one of the craziest governors that Michigan could possibly have, was in place, but we survived. I passed a bill, the Renaissance Zone, I remember him telling me, “Yup, we’re going to pass this bill, but you can’t have it. It’s too nice of a bill.”

LW: What did he mean by that?

HS: We were gonna have to have some co-sponsors that were Republicans that would benefit from the bill we wanted to pass. So I went on and agreed to a lot of co-sponsorship and they passed it.

LW: This would have been in the late 1980s?

HS: Right [sic].

LW: When were you elected?

HS: In 1994. From 1994 to 1998.

LW:  So you served a four year term. Do you remember there being, at that point, any tension based on race?

HS: Yes.

LW: How? Can you tell me about that?

HS: Well it was all based on where you lived and—because you have to remember as a Senator you represented about 400,000 people. And when we passed the bill for the Renaissance Zone, certain Senators got certain areas, like I got Southwest Detroit, and Eight Mile and Mack [sic] where the Medical Center was, and the school that’s right there the—I can’t think of the name of the school right there at Mack and—they benefited from it because that was a Renaissance Zone. There was a school there. The [Max ?] Theater, had a school around the corner, was the one of the benefits of the Renaissance Zone, and the Medical Center, they benefited from it.

LW: From the bill that you passed, to make that a Renaissance Zone, and part of the Renaissance Zone was getting funding?

HS: Yeah. That’s how they built the school.

LW: From the State of Michigan?

HS: Yeah.

LW: Now, when you say that it all depended on where you live, what do you mean by that?

HS: That certain people got certain areas for the Renaissance bill legislation. I mean, that’s just how they divided it up. There was no reason or rhyme, it’s just that, it’s not who you know, but how successful you were in getting your piece of the pie in your area. I’ve seen people all around the state got their slices, you know. That’s just how they break things down in government. They still do it like that today. Right now today, you can rest assured that, like they’re trying  to fix the roads, you better believe that only certain areas are going to get their roads fixed, based on how that money gets divvied up. Don’t think for a moment that your little area’s going to get some kind of road development, because it’s not going to happen. If you got a pothole, that pothole is not going to get fixed, unless the government, and the guys that you represent, are fighting for you. If your people are not fighting for your representation, it’s not going to happen. I don’t care what you do.

LW: When you were working for the State of Michigan—you were an elected representative—what was the most difficult thing that you had to deal with?

HS: Everybody. You fought every single day. There was never a day that went by that you didn’t find yourself fighting for your people. And if you didn’t fight or learn how to deal with them and your legislative friends—if you didn’t have any friends you could forget it, and I had a lot of friends—different people I could call on. There was no shame in my game, to be able to go across the aisle and negotiate with them. And they loved me because I would go around and play cards with them.

LW: The Republicans you mean?

HS: Yeah, the Republicans. I had a ton of Republican friends. I made a lot of friends and they loved me and I loved them. So whenever I needed something, I could just go across the aisle and get it.

LW: You think that’s the way to an effective government.

HS: Yup. I remember there was a guy that was there, Coleman Young, who had been there for a long time and he was my dear friend. I can remember a lot of times we’d be in the legislature, and if I had a question about how to deal with politics, when I’d go on break I would go upstairs and call him. He lived in the Riverfront at the time, as the mayor. I had another friend, Jackie Vaughn, who was in the legislature. He was my neighbor. He lived above me. I used to live right across from the Capitol when I was in the legislature. I lived in Richard Austin’s old apartment.

LW: Oh. What was the address? Do you remember it?

HS: The address? Where Richard Austin—I don’t know, it was right across the street from the Capitol.

LW: In Lansing?

HS: In East Lansing, right. The Lincoln Tower, I want to say.

LW: So you lived around a lot of people who were elected officials, I assume?

HS: Yeah. Well Richard Austin lived—I took over his apartment when he left office, and he left all his books to me, and his furniture and everything. It was raggedy, but it was still his apartment [laughter]. He left all his books, so I learned to read all of his books and stuff and he was a real learned man I found out. He knew the election process backwards and forwards—had every book you could think of about dealing with elections.

LW: When you were living in East Lansing, where was your home in Detroit?

HS: It was in Detroit. I lived at the Riverfront.

LW: You kept an apartment here at the Riverfront and then had your apartment in Lansing.

HS: Yeah. Riverfront Towers.

LW: So how often were you staying in Detroit—how often were you staying in Lansing?

HS: Back and forth. Almost weekly I would be back in Detroit, visiting with my constituents. I had an office in the Renaissance Center at 333 East Jefferson.

LW: That must have been soon after the Renaissance Center opened?

HS: Well, no. It had sold a couple times. Because Ford owned it, and Ford sold it to somebody.

LW: Got it.

HS: And I used to lease an apartment there, in the Renaissance Center.

LW: An apartment and an office?

HS: My State Senate office was inside the Renaissance Center on the skywalk going across Jefferson. It was nice.

LW: It sounds nice. What was your favorite part about being an elected official?

HS: Elected official? Being able to help so many people. I enjoyed the heck out of that.

LW: Okay.

HS: Because you got the ability to pass legislation at your whim or caprice, to help different segments of the population, and I enjoyed that. I enjoyed going out and meeting with constituents and then making things happen like when they were trying to decide to build those properties off of Mack, off of the side of the freeway, right there by those tall high rise apartments. They wanted to tear those down and everybody was fighting like—they had all these community meetings. So I met with them and told them it was the best thing for them to do, was allow them to tear those buildings down, because they were going to come through there and build something totally different and unique, and if you go there today, and go to the Lodge [US-10], to the left, or west of the Lodge, you got those beautiful buildings there. It’s just amazing to see the transformation in ten or fifteen years, you know.

LW: What do you think the biggest challenge is for Detroit today?

HS: Detroit has to be rebuilt. I would love to participate in the rebuilding of those buildings west of the waterfront, you know where Rivertown is and the boardwalk and all that—tremendous area to develop.

LW: Along the Riverwalk—the new Riverwalk?

HS: Oh yeah, because that’s coming now. People are moving in there, building those apartment buildings up. If they get the right people to come in and develop, that would be an amazing transformation for Detroit.

LW: Around the Ren Cen?

HS: Yeah around the Ren Cen—east of the Renaissance Center.

LW: East of the Renaissance Center, that’s right.

HS: That’s a tremendous area, and that’s the waterfront. I dream that one day you’ll be able to drive down Jefferson, and go over a bridge and end up on East Jefferson and they’ll start to build property around there. It’s coming, one day it’s going to be so beautiful.

LW: How do you think they’re going to do that? How do you think the city can be rebuilt?

HS: Well you got, first of all, to have access to the land. The people that own that land got to be willing to give it up to the surrounding area so people can build homes and convert all those apartment buildings into residential living. And that could take some doing. That’s why the Detroit Land Bank Authority has to really be involved in the process. The mayor has to be involved in the process. He has to have the same kind of dream. He has to have people who’ll buy into it. I think he’s there, but he has to have a vision, I don’t know what his vision is, but—sometimes I wish I was the mayor, and maybe I will be one day, I don’t know.

LW: I don’t know either. Maybe I’ll be the mayor one day.

HS: You could be, but you just remember what I said.

LW: What’s that?

HS: Rebuild Detroit.

LW: Rebuild Detroit, that’s right, that’s right. Do you have anything else you want to share with us about your experiences?

HS: Well, I could share about the fact that I never thought I’d be in this situation, you know.

LW: What’s the situation?

HS: The situation of being a stroke victim, a person who had a stroke. You know, they found me, I was coming back from Connecticut. I went into my closet to hang my clothes up and—two days before that happened I was driving around on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

LW: Whoa!

HS: And then next thing I know I’m laying in the closet. It was four days before they found me, and when they found me I was dehydrated, probably one day away from death according to the doctor. But look at me now, I’ve come back.

LW: Coming back.

HS: I’m back.

LW: [Laughter] You’re back.

HS: I’m in my right mind. I’m clear. I guess I’m clear. I guess once you do this interview, you’ll determine—[laughter].

LW: We’ll determine that.

HS: Whether you can remember the words or whatever.

LW: I’m so happy that you survived that, I’m so sorry to hear that.

HS: But I’ve been through a lot. You talk about Detroit—I’ve been shot three times.

LW: When were you shot?

HS: About a year after I left the legislature somebody tried to rob me at a bank, and shot me three times.

LW: Oh my goodness.

HS: But I survived that, I’m back

LW: You’re back. When was your stroke?

HS: Two years ago.

LW: And what were you doing in Connecticut?

HS: I went to a convention; a bishop board meeting. I’m an ordained elder in my church.

LW: What church do you go to?

HS: Greater Grace on Seven Mile and Schaeffer.

LW: Okay.

HS: I just lost my uncle.

LW: I’m sorry.

HS: Yeah, he was the first black Marine. That’s one of the things that I highlight—you know he was a Marine, so he taught me what it meant to be a man of impeccable integrity ‘cause of how he was. But at ninety-three-years old he was a—he got a Congressional Gold Medal from Obama, for being the first black Marine.

LW: What was his name?

HS: Edsel Stallings. If you Google it you’ll get a nice article on him. He’s quite a man.

LW: What did he tell you growing up? How did he impact you? What was one of the things that he said that you remember?

HS: Well as a member of the United States Marines, he taught me that character and—‘cause he was also Assistant Secretary of State, for the state of Michigan just before I came into office. That’s how I got to knew Richard Austin. Richard Austin was the first [black] and longest serving  Secretary of State. He came in under the Reagan admin—not Reagan, but—the guy that used to be the governor

LW: The governor of Michigan?

HS: Yeah. One of the worst governors of Michigan—John Engler—that wasn’t hard was it?

LW: No. [laughter]

HS: And I used to work for Engler. He was a trip.

LW: Yeah, you said that it was difficult to work with him.

HS: Oh, beyond difficult, ‘cause he wasn’t trying to do nothing for Detroit. If you mentioned Detroit, you might as well be in another part of the state.

LW: So you had an interesting experience working with other lawmakers.

HS: Oh yeah.

LW: As you mentioned, you felt the governor didn’t have a real high regard for Detroit, but you were representing people in Detroit—your constituency was in Detroit.

HS: Oh yeah. I had River Rouge, Southwest Detroit—it was a challenge because you were fighting every single day just for one little crumb. We were at the bottom of everything in the city of Detroit—infant mortality, crime, whatever it was we were on the bottom rungs of the state’s economic society so we had to fight every single day just for one little crumb, to help the citizens of Detroit. And they didn’t even realize it, that was the hard part about it—they didn’t realize that you were fighting for them, and no matter how hard you fought, they didn’t care because they were definitely going to pass legislation. Because that’s what they’re all about, to help their friends, that’s why they call it passing a bill. They would sit up there and pass bills all day long to benefit their friends and by the time you realized that, it’s time for you to leave office. It’s terrible. I’m hoping that one day I’ll get a chance to go back.

LW: I hope you do.

HS: I do too, because I got some people I got to jack up.

LW: Okay. [Laughter]

HS: And now that I know the process it should be a lot more fun.

LW: You know the process. Well, we really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.

HS: I appreciate talking to you.

LW: We appreciate your perspective too. Very interesting. Thank you so much, Henry.

**

People

Austin, Richard
Engler, John
Stallings, Edsel

Search Terms

Conant Gardens,
Detroit Pershing High School, Lansing, looting
Michigan State Senate, Renaissance Center,
Riverfront

Files

I phone 022.JPG

Citation

“Henry Stallings, July 2nd, 2015,” Detroit 1967 Online Archive, accessed September 15, 2019, http://detroit1967.detroithistorical.org/items/show/77.

Output Formats