There has been a lot of talk about money and who is on it as of late, with some of that conversation including our own civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
But we got to thinking. What if through some quirk of time, space and coincidence Detroit had our own currency? Who would we put on it? This started a lively debate at the Daily HQ in Cass Park.
Here are some suggestions we came up with – along with runners-up. Are we on-point or totally off-base?
$1 – Antoine De La Mothe Cadillac
Following the tradition of having the founding father be in the one dollar spot, we’re going with Cadillac for that one.
$2 – Tyree Guyton
Giving him the two dollar bill seems appropriate as it’s unique and often brings a smile when you get ahold of one – just like a lot of his work for many Detroiters. He also is one of the artists that really seems to have inspired some of the latest creative wave in Detroit with his Heidelberg project. We would call it a “Two Dotter Bill.”
$5 – Hazen Pingree
This guy is debatably the best mayor we’ve ever had. He was doing urban farming to fight off famine way before it was cool – his nickname was “Potato Patch Pingree.” He was widely viewed as a champion of the people, and he’s probably our only mayor from the 1800s with his own fan page.
$10 – Coleman A. Young
This one may be a hot one for debate, but Detroit’s first black mayor (and the longest-serving) undoubtedly he left a giant impression on the city, whether you think it was good or bad. After all, Alexander Hamilton is on the U.S. $10 bill – although seemingly a tame choice today – was quite controversial in his day.
$20 – Henry Ford
He’s also controversial in some ways, but he also made an undeniable impact on the region with the fact his first prototype rolled on Detroit’s streets about where the Michigan building is today, the assembly line and the $5 wage. On the back you could do tributes with art to Detroit cars of all major makes, and maybe use old hood ornament designs as seals.
$50 – Martha Jean The Queen Steinberg
She reminded listeners that the workers of America are somebody, as well as stayed on the air for 48 hours straight during the Detroit riots encouraging calm. She had a powerful ministry, was an important icon in the African American community and her sign off was “God loves you and I love you.” She also owned the radio station WQBH.
$100 – Gordie Howe
Probably Detroit’s most recognized and beloved sports figure. He’s getting a bridge named after him. Not to mention, “It’s all about the Gordies” has a ring to it.
What About The Change?
There are so many people to include, so here are our suggestions… although they may be honored in pocket change, their contributions are by no means insignificant or are icons of Detroit.
The Penny – Ernie Harwell
Who doesn’t love this guy? The former broadcaster is a legend and in the hearts of almost everyone who listened to a radio and lived in Detroit during his lifetime.
Nickel – Rosa Parks
I’m not sure we have to explain this one. But if you don’t know who Rosa Parks was, go here.
Dime – Father Gabriel Richard
Richard is in many ways the unsung hero of Detroit’s early days, serving not only as a priest but a congressman, as well as died serving Detroiters during the cholera outbreak of 180. He also gave us our motto, “Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus.”
Quarter – Steve Yzerman
He’s basically the most recognized Red Wing of the modern era.
Fifty Cent Piece – Albert Kahn
He’s single-handedly responsible for much of the “look” of Detroit. Whether it’s a skyscraper downtown, a church, a school, or an old factory, there’s a good chance that if it was beautiful and built in Detroit during a certain era he touched it.
Coin Dollar – Kid Rock on one side, Eminem on the other
It’s clear this coin would be chillin’ the most, and worth double on 8 mile.
Finally, one idea came up at the end of the discussion. To have special edition Wooden Nickels – with the face of none other than former Mayor and now felon Kwame Kilpatrick.
What do you think? Who would you swap in – or swap out?