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Flint unveils statue honoring city's first Black mayor

Members of the McCree family pose for photos with the statue of former Flint Mayor Floyd J. McCree
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Members of the McCree family pose for photos with the statue of former Flint Mayor Floyd J. McCree

People walking up to the entrance of Flint city hall will pass a statue honoring the city’s first Black mayor.

Floyd J. McCree was selected mayor by the city commission in 1966 and served until 1968. Under McCree, Flint became the first city to ban housing discrimination that prevented African-Americans from buying homes in “whites only” neighborhoods.

In 1967, Mayor McCree threatened to resign when the City Commission declined to adopt an open housing law. Commissioners eventually relented. The issue was later the subject of a hotly contested referendum, which narrowly was approved.

Current mayor Sheldon Neeley says McCree is an example of leadership.

“It’s about vision and visionaries like Floyd J. McCree. Not Vengeance,” said Neeley.

In the 1970s, Floyd McCree ran twice for mayor after the city of Flint changed its charter to allow for the direct election of its mayor. But he lost both times to James Rutherford.

“He was the people’s mayor,” said Bryon McCree, Floyd McCree’s son, “And even though after being mayor, he was register of deeds for Genesee County for 18 years, people still affectionately called him Mayor McCree. He was their mayor.”

Floyd McCree was born in Missouri and moved to Michigan to work in the auto industry after serving in the Army in World War Two.

He died in 1988 at the age of 65.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.