Many years ago at the age of 17, I went to the election polls, curious about how the political process worked. It was shocking when I came to the realization that the process worked to benefit the Democratic Party and the White voters, but failed the Black voters.
Over the years I have witnessed Black voters being used, misused, insulted and abused. There were many occasions that I witnessed Blacks demonstrate house Negro mentality. One election an elderly Black woman slapped a Black man for having the nerve to run against the White committeeman. A number of Black voters stated that they would not vote for the Black candidate because he had a speech impediment and did not speak well enough, but they voted for the White candidate, who could hardly speak English.
In those years dead persons voted, blind persons voted without assistance and every election more persons voted than were registered. If you worked on the polls you would be paid $7 and a half pint of whiskey if you voted.
In Highway & Sewerage Division all truck drivers were White and wore white shirts and ties, but Blacks were required to get in the sewers and do the cleaning. Some years later myself and some other Black Republicans waged a campaign that helped a Black Democrat win, and he became the chairman and constable, but his loyalty was with the party. The only major change was a Black voice represented the Democratic Party. However in the fifth ward there was a Black chairman, Pappy Williams, and he understood the importance of political power and wielded it. There were no appointments or jobs unless Pappy cleared them. After Pappy’s death his brother, Jake Williams came to power and Pappy had prepared Jake well, because the fifth ward never lost a beat. After Jake resigned Zack Winston succeeded him, although he was not Jake he was effective and utilized the position to help as many people as possible.
I had a working and sometimes confrontational relationship with the Black chairmen. There was Jim Bulls, Jimmie Lane, on the North Side Paul Green, Zack Winston on the Hill. In Homewood Euzell “Bubbie” Hairston became the 13th ward chairman and was a power to be reckoned with.
For 27 years I was an active Republican and was generally on the opposite political side of the street. I was often asked why I became a Republican, and the primary reason was every Democratic activist I met had become a Democrat because of economic salvation (seeking employment).
I have always been passionate about improving the quality of life for Black people and I believed the fastest way was sophisticated voting. In 1970 the family moved to East Liberty, 12th ward 12th district. There came a period of time I changed my registration from the Hill District to East Liberty, and became politically active. It was a joyous occasion, because it reunited me with old friends that I had known as youngsters, and the friendship became closer than ever it was with Frank Williams and Doc Fielder Jr.
A newfound friend became an integral part of the lifetime circle, Eddie Tibbs. I had been in contact with Frank over the years, but Dock and I had not been close for years, but it did not take long to renew it. I witnessed Dock mature, he became the chairman of the chairmen. He was big in stature, big voice, big heart and the courage to stand tall to fight for convictions that would be beneficial for people. Dock Fielder Jr. was subjected to criticism just like any person that puts them self on the firing line. You have heard it, Dock is uneducated, a hoodlum, cusses too much, etc., etc. However I need to remind the readers that down thru history Black persons out front have been subjected to criticism namely Jesus Christ, Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Attorney Byrd R. Brown and last but not least President Barack Obama.
Dock went home October of 2011 and a giant political void was left. If you are honest with yourself and know anything about politics there exists a great need for a Dock Fielder Jr. currently in 2012.
There still exist a need for your financial assistance for Kingsley Association.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)