To those who know me you can remember that for the first 30 years of my political involvement I was an active proud Republican. As a person too young to register as a graduate of Fifth Avenue High, I decided in the year of 1949 to visit the polling place in my district out of curiosity. Over the following years I became extremely more interested in how the existing political process was not serving the colored (not Black yet) well. I began to interview persons and ask questions such as why was there only one colored committeeperson out of 32 in the ward? The following questions such as why were 95 percent of political jobs occupied by colored voters in the ward were in the refuse division; all positions in the court system district attorney, sheriff, truck drivers (excluding refuse), police, firefighters, row offices, magistrate, constable, and ward chairman were occupied by White residents?
I lived in the Lower Hill when the URA began to demolish it and all of our White neighbors began to move into other sections of Pittsburgh, but they remained registered in the Lower Hill third ward and kept their jobs. Time passes so fast and the conditions for colored persons in particular were worsened and when persons such as myself sought to question why those in control would dismiss my complaints by saying, “You are too young and it has always been the way it is and your people never complained.” However in my mind it was now the time to not only complain but also take positive action.
I vividly remember sitting down with my father seeking his direction on what political party I should register with. Daddy simply stated, “You have a high school diploma and the capacity to think for yourself, so go and figure it out and then come back.” The ward was overwhelmingly registered Democrat and almost to a person that I questioned the answer was almost identical, “You should register as a Democrat because it is the party of President Franklin Roosevelt, who created the welfare for colored folks.”