This column is to test your memory.
Do you recall when… Blacks could not swim in the public pools or the pools in amusement parks? There were no Black police officers with rank? We were denied the right to eat at lunch counters and also accommodations at downtown hotels? The neighborhood theaters required Blacks to sit in the balcony? Blacks were not afforded the opportunity to drive buses or streetcars? Only White men could drive highway and sewer trucks and Black men cleaned the sewers? There were no Blacks employed as Allegheny County police, deputy sheriffs, Black assistant district attorneys, no Black judges, and no Blacks elected to a city or countywide position? Do you remember when there were no Black teachers, cafeteria workers, janitors, crossing guards? And do not dare to dream of a Black principal. There were employers in collusion with unions that would deny Blacks jobs as truck drivers, elevator operators, brick layers, carpenters, electricians and untold numbers of jobs in the steel mills.
The above negative actions did not occur in the deep South, but throughout Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. The real tragedy is that much has changed, but still much remains the same in 2011.
I understand that there are a percentage of Blacks that are doing not good but all right, a number of those people are not concerned because they are busy trying to assimilate. You remember, “We tired boss.” How did these people ascend to these positions?
Egyptian citizens took a page out of our book. Do you remember the ‘60s when untold numbers of Blacks, Whites, educated, uneducated, young, old, talented and untalented gainfully employed and unemployed took to the streets and OUR VOICES WERE HEARD? Our voices have grown silent, a number of business people and politicians have looked me dead in my eyes and said to me, “I heard everything that you said to me and I read your column every week, but where are the voices of the army of people that allegedly agree with you?”
I don’t believe we will march again, but there are other solutions to getting our point across. For example the three police officers that are accused of beating the young man in Homewood in my estimation should be charged by the Allegheny County District Attorney with excessive force, and we should put 10 people a day in front of his office drawing attention to the situation daily. We should have a substantial number of parents or concerned citizens at every school board meeting.
We have failed to mobilize a number of citizens to be in attendance about crucial issues at Pittsburgh City Council meetings of Allegheny County Council.
What has happened to us? Is it because of 501 c3 and the potential money? Are minorities in business intimidated by fear that if they question the process they will be shut out of any potential contract? If your employer should ask you a pertinent question that deals with a crucial issue, do you give him an honest and accurate answer or do you provide him with the answer he expects and finds acceptable?
I have repeatedly written that the solutions to the problem of Black Americans lies in the hearts, mind and actions of Black Americans and we must stand up, speak out and act up when the situation requires it. We must find our voice and sense of commitment once again; it’s never too late.
Please remember the Kingsley Association.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)