Welcome to Friday Open Threads, wherein we'll pass the mic to readers to speak up about topics of interest, distress, horror, and more. Have something you want discussed? Let us know. This week’s topic: renaming Cobo Center.
In a time when many people across the country are talking about renaming places or removing racist landmarks, a couple places in Detroit are now the focus of the same subject.
Popular restaurant Katoi changed its name to Takoi in response to criticism; according to Eater Detroit. “The change comes several days after the restaurant became the subject of a Metro Times article that cited numerous responses from Thai and transgender individuals who felt the restaurant’s use of the word “Katoi”—a varied spelling of the Thai word kathoey that’s used as a slur towards Thai transgender people—was culturally appropriative and insensitive.”
Now there’s talk of renaming Cobo Center, home of the North American International Auto Show.
Mayor Mike Duggan has pushed for a while to rename the convention center, citing the racial housing policies enacted by mayor Albert Cobo, which led to displacement of many Detroit residents and destruction of predominantly African American neighborhoods.
According to Crain’s, “Cobo won the mayor's office in 1949 on a campaign of battling a "Negro invasion" of white neighborhoods and carried out former Mayor Edward Jeffries' plans of demolishing the predominantly African American neighborhoods of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley for so-called urban renewal, Detroit historian and author Ken Coleman said.”
Meanwhile, the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority is in talks to sell naming rights in order to generate new revenue. Finding the right company could be complicated since there’s a conflict of interest for the auto industry.
Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley has suggested naming the center after professional boxer Joe Louis, as the Joe Louis Arena will soon be gone.
What do you think, Curbed readers? What direction should the Cobo Center take? Should we have another corporate venue? One named after a Detroit icon? Or something different?