As a 17-year-old youngster who had graduated from Fifth Avenue High School, I was curious about politics and I was drawn to Letshe School. It was the polling place for the 3rd ward, 9th district and the committeeman was Charlie Solomon who was rated as the best vote getter in Allegheny County. The experience was unbelievable. There were ballot boxes with false bottoms where you were required to use a pencil, ghost voters (deceased), phantom voters (non existing), and you were paid seven dollars a day if you worked on the polls and given a half pint of whiskey after you voted. Out of 64 committee persons (32 city committee persons and 32 county committee persons) only two were colored.

In the early’50s the White residents of the 3rd ward began to move out of the Hill District. Syrians and Italians overwhelmingly moved to the South Hills, the Jewish population moved to Stanton Heights and Squirrel Hill. I witnessed those who had moved to the South Hills, but they never moved their voting address and continued to vote in the third ward. I had registered as a Republican and when I would question the illegal acts that took place the people would state it’s always been like this and it will never change.

The first colored man to challenge Charlie Solomon was Paul Green and I recall an incident that I will never forget. A Black woman walked up on Election Day to Paul and said, “Have you lost your mind running against Charlie?” and smacked Paul. That is just an example of the mindset of colored persons in that period of time. Eventually, Paul Green became the 3rd ward chairman, and elected constable. He was a fighter but limited academically so much remained the same for colored voters in the 3rd ward.

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