However in the upper hill, the 5th ward there was a colored ward chairman, Pappy Williams, who was the epitome of political power. Pappy was a political power broker in the truest sense and when he spoke the Democrat bosses listened and responded. His brother Jake Williams, who had learned well from Pappy, succeeded pappy and Jake was a power broker in the same sense.
The first Black legislator in western Pa. came out the 5th ward; Rep. Homer Brown, who would become the first Black judge elected to Allegheny County Court. The lion of Pennsylvania, who would become the speaker of House and serve 35 years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, K. Leroy lrvis also came out of the 5th ward. The number of people they were responsible for getting jobs, providing them with insurance, pension plans and other things was astronomical. Once Jake became the Magistrate he resigned from politics and he was succeeded by Zach Winston, who never ceased to do everything he could to enhance the well being of those residents of the 5th ward.
On the North side of Pittsburgh there were Jim Bulls, Joe Parker and currently Jimmie Lane. All three possessed the same qualities that other Black chairmen did that was to do the very best they could to improve the quality of life particularly for the voters on North side.
Homewood, the 13th ward was a carbon copy of the 3rd ward. White politicians controlled every thing and Blacks were on the outside looking in. There came a period of time that Black people decided enough was enough and they rose up and challenged those in the seat of power and unseated them. Euzell “Bubbie “ Hairston became the chairman and became a political force that the Democratic Party had to deal with and Bubble took no prisoners.
In 1956 a Black committeeman, Dock Fielder stated it was time for Blacks to represent the 12th ward (East Liberty). Dock ran and was victorious. He was now 12th ward chairman and began his ascent to becoming the most powerful Black politician in Allegheny County. Dock was famous for saying what he meant and meant what he said. He was an unusual politician in as much when he gave his word he never would go back on it. The Black chairmen had their share of critics in the Black communities, but no other organization did as much to put Blacks to work, enable them to buy homes and cars, provide for their families, send their children to college, go on vacations and to share in the American Dream as the Black Chairmen.
The majority of my political life I was a critic of these Black chairmen because they were all dyed in the wool Democrats and the party could do no wrong. However I came to realize that these Black chairmen did the very best they knew.
In the year 2013 a great void exists because we the Black Citizens have absolutely no leadership. Those who would describe themselves as leaders are caught up in themselves; it is always I never we or us. They seek that elusive title H.N.I.C. Over the years I have always maintained the answer to absolute freedom lie in the hearts, minds and action of Black people.
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(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)