Let’s go back some years ago. During that period of time we went overwhelmingly to Black churches, ate at Black-owned establishments such as B&M, Mama Lucy’s, Boykin’s, and others.
We were generally treated as second-class citizens at parks such as Kennywood, Westview and South Park. We were denied access to swimming pools, skating rinks, major hotels and the job situation was deplorable. However, there came a time when Blacks said, “ain’t going to take it anymore.”
This mood swept the nation as we began to pray more, picket, boycott and file lawsuits. We were selective in voting and the result was positive changes began to occur. Blacks now began to become an integral part of the American Dream. We now occupied positions in corporate and government sectors that we had always been denied. Across this nation Blacks began to ascend to seats of power we had never dared to dream such as mayors in Atlanta, Ga., Chicago, Ill., Cleveland, Ohio, Los Angeles, Calif., Detroit, Mich., Newark, N.J. and other cities. There are state senators, U.S. congresspersons, lieutenant governors, state attorney generals, police chiefs, police commissioners, U.S. senators and CEOs of worldwide corporations.
The question is WHAT HAS GONE WRONG WITH US?
Let’s focus on Pittsburgh where election after election Blacks argue, lose friendship, cease to speak to each other and sometimes become physically combative, over political candidates that don’t look like us.
Allow me to list what should be embarrassing statistics to Black residents of Allegheny County.
Throughout the entire history of the city of Pittsburgh former city councilman Louis Mason was the only Black person to ever be president of council. Allegheny County Council has no Black employees.
Allegheny County has only elected one Black in its history to a row office. There were only two Blacks in the history of Allegheny County to ever campaign for the position of state senator and no Black was ever endorsed. Two Black men ran for congress in Allegheny County, but the Republican Party was the only party to ever endorse a Black in1978, 33 years ago.
Do you remember the last time a Black women or man ran for mayor, Allegheny County District Attorney or Sheriff?
What kind of message are we sending our children or ourselves?
It is my absolute conviction that Blacks across Allegheny County need a revival. We seem to have forgotten that period of time that we were introduced to the established facts that Black pride was an all important aspect of our lives and that definitely “Black is beautiful.”
A large number of my generation worked hard, some for themselves but mostly for the man. But they made the necessary sacrifices throughout their lives that enabled them to provide for their families. We bought homes, sent our children to college, provided expensive weddings for our daughters and convinced ourselves we did all right. Then came a time we traveled to places we use to read and dream about. We drank martinis and convinced ourselves we had arrived. There was a time we would express our admiration for those whose shoulders we stood on, but a tragic change occurred—the admiration was changed to “I did it on my own.”
The current generation is definitely not cut from the same bolt of cloth as their grandparents and too frequently not their parents. They now have impressive titles, substantial salaries and opportunities Blacks at one time dared not dream about. This generation has attended the finest educational institutions in the nation, but an overwhelming number did not major in the Cs—caring, concern, compassion, and commitment (particularly to other Blacks). This generation failed to read Black history in entirety. There was a time we were polite, well-mannered, courteous, non-violent, passive, practiced turning the other cheek and we definitely prayed. However Black advancement had stalled, but across this nation a new sense of Black consciousness arose and there was a new cry “burn baby burn.” These persons were branded thugs, hoodlums, criminals, gangsters and worse, but it was their actions that helped change the course of this country. The pictures of their actions were shown across the world and it was the driving force for President Johnson to institute “The Great Society.” Their actions were questioned at that time by a vast number of persons, but most of them passed the C test.
On a rare occasion I was subjected to a person who played the role of “THE SPOOK THAT SAT BY THE DOOR.” It is becoming increasingly more apparent to me that our voices have grown too silent and passive once again and it’s giving those who don’t care anyway the false impression that WE DON’T CARE.
Please remember Kingsley Association.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)