The 1970s and 1980s were a period of crises for Michigan. Detroit still suffered from the aftermath of the race riots in 1967 and its crime rate increased. Detroit and other cities were ordered by federal courts to desegregate their schools, but whites resisted programs to bus children to achieve racial balance. Urban automobile plants and their suppliers began to relocate both in suburban areas and other states, leading to more unemployment, neighborhood deterioration, and crime. Conditions worsened when Middle Eastern oil suppliers imposed an embargo on the United States in 1973, causing gasoline shortages and a decline in car sales. This temporarily crippled Michigan’s two largest industries, automobile manufacturing and tourism.
Coleman Young was elected in 1973 as Detroit’s first black mayor, and the start of construction on a hotel and business complex named the Renaissance Center and the Joe Louis Arena helped revitalize the downtown area. After a brief rebound, the economy faltered again in the 1980s. Because its economic base was so heavily dependent on the auto industry, Michigan once more was hit hard when automobile sales slumped, as many consumers chose foreign cars over American models. The state’s third leading industry, agriculture, also declined, and unemployment in the state reached its highest level since the Great Depression. Two governors held office during this turbulent period. William G. Milliken became governor in 1969 when Romney resigned to join President Richard Nixon’s cabinet. Milliken was in office 13 years, making him the state’s longest serving chief executive.
In 1983 James Blanchard became the first Democratic governor of Michigan in 20 years. Like Milliken, Blanchard emphasized education and economic stability. He proposed a plan to diversify the economy, retraining workers for high technology jobs, and sought regional cooperation among the Great Lakes states to attract new industries. However, his ideas received little support from the legislature and business leaders.
In 1973 Gerald R. Ford, a Michigan congressman, was appointed vice president of the United States after the incumbent, Spiro Agnew, resigned. The next year, Ford became the 38th president when Nixon resigned because of the Watergate political scandal.
The 1970s also saw conflicts between the state and Native American residents. A 1979 federal court decision upheld the rights of Michigan tribes to fish and hunt in traditional areas. "Michigan" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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