We both had the same first name Louis; we remained friends and stayed in touch for 50 years prior to his death.
There had always been some division between Blacks; on the plantation it was the house Negro against the field Negro.
As we gained our freedom there was division based on pigmentation, hair context, living on the job and having access to a bathtub and then those who obtained college degrees.
An overwhelming number went to Black colleges, but eventually White colleges and universities cracked their doors so Blacks could enter. The division continued as they earned their BAs, Master Degrees and PhDs. The job opportunities were overwhelmingly limited so the majority was employed by the federal post office or as state social workers.
In the 1960s the nation gave birth to the Civil Rights Movement and untold numbers protested in the streets.
The marchers were unemployed, underemployed, welfare recipients, unemployable, educated, uneducated and those who never wanted to work, but the marches bore fruit.
The corporate community was reluctant, but they now hired Blacks to positions such as sales persons, truck drivers, elevator operators, managers, directors, vice presidents, senior vice presidents and president. Time moves on and now the politicians get into the act; they appoint Blacks to directors, solicitors, asst. district attorneys, magistrates and judges.
The White corporate leaders in conjunction with the White politicians now ordain those Blacks they hired as the best and the brightest in the Black communities and state in effect to Black communities these are your leaders.
The greatest tragedy is that too many of these persons have allowed themselves to believe they truly are the best and brightest and look down on the majority of other less fortunate Blacks.
If these individuals are truly the best and the brightest how do we classify those who epitomized that entrepreneurial spirit?
An overwhelming number of these persons had almost no formal education but did abundantly well over the course of their lives.
The current generation has never witnessed blocks of Black-owned businesses; it truly was an unbelievable living portrait.
There were those of us who believed it would last forever, but we were wrong. It was not just in Pittsburgh but also across this country this picture of Blacks in business played out. Yes in my estimation these were the best and brightest.
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(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum page.