Former Detroit mayor Dennis Archer will give a talk on campus tomorrow about his storied career, during which he became the first black leader of the American Bar Association and charismatically led one of the nation’s most storied cities.

Archer, who served as Detroit’s mayor from 1994 until 2001 and is considering a run for governor in 2010, is scheduled to speak at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Michigan Union’s Kuenzel Room. The event, sponsored by the Black Undergraduate Law Association, is open to the public.

According to Ryan Norman, spokesperson for the Black Undergraduate Law Association, which is hosting the event, Archer will discuss his rise to a position on the state Supreme Court, his two terms as mayor and his law career. He’ll also speak about the importance of balancing academic goals and successes with community service and the need for students to reach out beyond their collegiate environments, Norman said.

Norman, an LSA senior who met Archer three years ago and invited the former mayor to speak, said he considers Archer a “mentor” for his legal prowess and leadership qualities.

As mayor, Archer helped implement programs like federal empowerment zones, which gave grants and tax incentives to city businesses to help them establish themselves in economically depressed neighborhoods. In 1996, Newsweek named Archer among the “25 Most Dynamic Mayors in America” for his efforts to revive the struggling city.

His mayoral legacy took a hit when the city’s public school system made few strides under his watch. He was criticized for his plan to bring three casinos into the city — an idea he felt would boost Detroit’s economy. The plan was eventually approved, but only after meeting harsh opposition from some city residents, including an unsuccessful attempt to gather enough signatures for a recall election to push Archer out of office.

Widely considered to be one of the nation’s most influential black politicians and lawyers, Archer was named to the National Law Journal’s list of 100 Most Powerful U.S. Attorneys. Before his two-term stint as mayor, Archer served as justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and an adjunct professor at the Wayne State University Law School.

Archer, who became the first black person to serve as American Bar Association President in 2003, recently told The Associated Press that he may run for governor in 2010.

The former mayor has spoken at the University several times before, both during his mayoral terms and in the years following it.

Norman said BULA, which has between 20 and 25 members — almost all of whom are in the pre-law program — hopes Archer’s visit will generate interest in the group, which has undergone many organizational changes in past years. BULA went through what Norman described as a complete overhaul in 2003 and rewrote its constitution just last year.

The organization was founded in the early 1990s by a group of black Pre-Law students who wanted to increase the limited number of opportunities available to them on campus.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.