An overwhelming number of us are students of events and accomplishments of those men and women who were Black History-makers.
There are those of us who recite during Black History Month the names of persons starting with the builders of the pyramids, inventors, WEB Dubois, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Marcus Garvey, Nat Turner, A. Phillip Randolph, Harriett Tubman, So Journer Truth, etc., etc.
On a local level we recite the names of those local Black persons, who were significant contributors—Woogie Harris, Gus Greenlee, Joseph Robinson, Cepheus Ford, Johnson Photo Studio, Pryor Furs, Nesbit’s Restaurant, Ma Pitts, Mamma Lucy, Tyson Bakery, West Funeral Homes, Poole’s, McTurner, Jones, and hundreds of Black-owned business persons across Allegheny County. There was Robert L. Vann, Mal Goode and a number of committed God fearing ministers, who were activists throughout the Black communities.
All of the above were super strong dedicated Blacks of yesteryear, but can we continue to live in yesteryear? I will never forget in the early 1970s someone said to a White reporter that “Blacks built the pyramids,” and the reporter responded with “what have Blacks built since?”
We celebrated Dr. King Day and Black History Month by singing, having rallies, all kinds of affairs, but now it’s March, so where do we go and what will we do? Black business districts no longer exist. You can’t buy a cup of coffee on the Hill, and in order to shop you must leave the Hill.
Someone remarked at a meeting one night that across this country wherever a street, boulevard or avenue is named after Dr. King you find a deteriorating neighborhood where there is drug dealing, shootings and inadequate schooling.
In 2010 we must challenge our Black elected officials, Pittsburgh City Council, Allegheny County Council, our religious leaders and most importantly we must challenge ourselves. As important as Black history is, it is more important that we become ARCHITECTS OF TODAY AND TOMORROW.
(Louis ‘Hop’ Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum page.)