I have challenged the above statement all of my life, but recently I have begun to believe that we are an unusual people in the city of Pittsburgh. There seems to be a number of reasons, explanations or excuses why.
John Craig Hammond, an assistant at Penn State, a scholar of slavery and African-American History, stated the current generations were not forged by the Civil Rights Movement as their parents were, and we lack the growth of a sizeable affluent Black population.
Thom King, the first Black elected official in New Kensington believes very few Blacks currently have the inclination to run for public office. Dwight Evans attributes the lack of Black elected officials to the fact neither political party grooms any Blacks. Dwight Evans continued by challenging the current generation by saying, “No one gives you anything, it will never be an entitlement, you have to run for public office.”
At the end of 2008 in cities with a population of more than 50,000, there were 45 cities with Black mayors, 35 Black men and 10 Black females. There are only 12 cities with a Black population the size of Pittsburgh or smaller, but if it can happen there it can happen here. The total number of Black mayors nationwide at the end of 2008 was 641, and every one of the 50 states in America has at least one Black mayor.
A number of us remember the first two Blacks elected to the position of mayor in major cities, it was 1967 Carl B. Stokes city of Cleveland, Ohio, and Richard G. Hatcher, Gary, Ind., and in Washington, D.C., Walter Washington was appointed.
As important as Black History can be, we must not focus on it to the extent that we in Pittsburgh continue to not duplicate in 2013 what happened in other cities 45 years ago. In fact, since Pittsburgh was founded you can count the number of Blacks that have dared to run for mayor on one hand. (Do you remember?) When was the last time a Black person in Allegheny County ran for district attorney, sheriff, county executive, controller, and treasurer?
When you attend your meetings at your fraternities, sororities, Masons, church, business organizations do you even think about some of you stepping out front? If not, WHY NOT? Do most of you take the negative approach that I can’t win because I can’t raise the money, it’s to difficult, I don’t know enough people and the people don’t know me? (Ask yourself why?)
There are over 200 Black attorneys, how many will run for Allegheny County Common Pleas Court? Not one Black male has showed an interest in running for the presidency of the oldest civil rights organization, NAACP—WHY?
Ask yourself are we the most unusual and docile Blacks in the nation?
Please remember Kingsley Association needs your financial help.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum page.)