I am often reminded of the saying “the more things change the more they remain the same.”
In the year of 1949—more than 62 years ago—as I was introduced to politics, the Democrats constantly sang the praises of the Democratic Party. That they under the leadership of FDR were God sent and they helped Blacks in particular with that wonderful revelation called the Welfare.
The Republicans on an ongoing basis referred to the fact that President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which in theory freed the slaves. The Democrats were overwhelmingly referred to as the party of liberals and the Republicans as the conservatives. In the Black communities liberalism was perceived as a party that was concerned about Blacks and conservatives were anti Blacks. I would often ask the question, if all Democrats are liberal and that concerned about Blacks, explain why bigotry and discrimination and even lynching exists mainly in the southern states which are all Democratic-controlled states. There never was a reasonable answer.
I will never forget that at Leo Weil School Rep. Leroy Irvis, one of the brightest politicians in my life, stated that colored folks as long as they live should always be grateful to the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party put colored Judas goats out front in our communities across this nation and their function was to keep the masses of Blacks in a state of ignorance. In every major city in America the Democratic Party has been in almost total control for an average of 75 years, and what is the state of Blacks in those cities? The city of Chicago under the guidance of the late Mayor Washington was one of the exceptional cities.
We should analyze Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and look at our situation and ask ourselves why are our conditions so deplorable, especially since the Democrats we repeatedly vote for are liberals? In the very near future I will write a column detailing how the local government [city and county] spend over a billion dollars and how little Blacks are afforded an opportunity to share in how their tax dollars are spent. You will be utterly shocked.
Too many Blacks are confused about how government spends our money, because they generally believe it’s only for construction contracts when in fact its also professional service contracts. There is an unbelievable amount of money spent [some no bid].
Let’s list the last Democratic mayors in the City of Pittsburgh and decide which one or if anyone is or was a liberal: Ravenstahl, O’Connor, Murphy, Masloff, Caliguiri, Flaherty, Barr and Dave Lawrence. Do you remember Allegheny County Commissioner Tom Foerster? Did he fit the category of a liberal?
I spent 27 years as an active Republican, and I left the Republican Party because the very conservative faction took control. The very active moderate Republican, Elise Hillman, who had proven under leadership by her actions that she had a real concern about the welfare of all people, was replaced and I knew it was time to move on with my political involvement.
If you put all Republicans in a conservative bracket where they are portrayed as anti-poor, anti-Black, allow me to provide you with just a few examples to prove how wrong you will be. On a local level the positive contributions of Elsie Hillman are without equal. Also the former Allegheny County Commissioners, Larry Dunn and Bob Cramner, first Republicans in 62 years compiled an unprecedented record by awarding millions of dollars in goods and service contracts to Blacks and women, named the first Black warden at Allegheny County Jail, first Black Superintendent of Allegheny County Police, first Black doctor to head up Mental Health and Retardation, first Black Allegheny County Airport Fire Chief and first Black chairman of the Allegheny County Airport Authority Board.
There was U.S. Sen. Hugh Scott, New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and last but not least Former President Richard M. Nixon. A vast number of people don’t know that President Nixon was the founder and architect of Black Capitalism, Affirmative Action and also was the first president in the history of America to include funds in the U.S. budget for Historical Black Colleges. These Republicans refute the too often belief that all Republicans are anti-Black.
In conclusion I once read a poem that there was a line that read: a lesser people who have spent so much time standing on the road of time would have become exhausted and would have given up. However, Black people must reenergize and become more determine, dedicated and politically sophisticated so we can make intelligent well thought out decisions at the very next election.
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(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)