Over the last 60 plus years that I have spent in politics, I have witnessed a multitude of actions that if I had not witnessed I would not believe them. As a beginner, I remember an elderly Black woman slapping a Black man and saying, “That’s for having the unbelievable nerve to run against Mr. Charlie,” a White office holder.
A few years later the same two candidates opposed each other and this time about eight Black Republicans supported the Black Democrat and the argument that Black Democrats tried to use against the candidate was that he was not qualified because he was not articulate.
Our response was your White candidate couldn’t speak English. That was the first time the word qualifications had ever been used in a campaign, because prior the only qualification was to be White.
As I became more involved in politics I became aware of the fact that the White candidates would oppose each other and no matter the outcome they remained friends, but Black folks would be mad with each other forever.
There was a bitter campaign for governor between Democrat Mayor David Lawrence and the Republican leader, and Mayor Lawrence won. After the campaign, the federal government indicted the Republican candidate. The first person to testify in his behalf was the Democratic governor. Yes they were still friends.
As an employee in the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office I will always remember a high ranking Pittsburgh Police Officer was indicted for being the bagman between the rackets and the Democratic party.
The district attorney continued to postpone the trial and it became an office joke, because some of us understood where these postponements were leading.
One morning we went to work and the message went out trial this morning for the bagman. We all smiled, the defense attorney opened by addressing the judge band saying, “ Your Honor, the time limit to bring this case to trial has expired..” The judge with no hesitation stated, “You are right, case dismissed.”
Another example of politicians still being one and the same a Republican and a Democrat, but the rank and file in the political parties continue to fight each other. In western Pennsylvania there has never been a Black state senator, or a Black congressperson and there are those in the Black communities who are satisfied with that situation.
In the 1970s, two Black men ran for U.S. Congress against a White incumbent and the reasoning not to support either of them was the person in the position is doing all right so why should he be opposed.
Let us examine that weak and flawed argument. Blacks were denied access to unions, police and firemen positions, public recreational facilities, public accommodations; Pittsburgh was often referred to as “Up South.” The White alleged liberal congressman never used his influence to change any of the above acts of discrimination, so clarify your attitude that he was doing all right.
This is 2016 and those who love the political party and the personal perks that benefit them are using the same argument the current congressman is doing all right. How?
The city of Pittsburgh is still referred to as “Up South.” There are billions of taxpayers’ dollars being spent throughout Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, but Blacks are not sharing in the prosperity.
There was a statement issued by the airport that 23 percent of the vendors were minorities, what is the definition of minorities?
A month ago, I asked how many Blacks, not minorities, had been awarded a professional service contract in the last three years. The elected Black officials confirmed that the plight of Black citizens throughout Allegheny County was deplorable.
I ask the same question that was asked in the ‘70s; what has the current liberal congressman done to alleviate the multitude of problems that impede the growth and prosperity of not minorities, but Black citizens and voters?
I was in attendance at a party and the conversation came up about elected officials not being opposed and I asked the same question, why not? I then proceeded to provide them with the answer. All you have to do to observe what is not being done where you live and then ask who is responsible, who did I vote for, why did I vote for them?
It is my absolute conviction that every elected official should be challenged.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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