On Thursday, Nov. 2, I was among of multitude of persons who were in attendance at Heinz History Center to view the world premiere of NOMMO Productions’ film “Wendell Freeland: A Quiet Soldier.” It was an outstanding film about the life of a giant Black man. I use the adjective “giant” not because of his physical size, but because of his positive actions over the course of his life that improved the quality of life for Black people. The day that the producer, Billy Jackson, called me and explained how he intended to produce the film about Wendell’s life, I was delighted to be a part of a program for such a deserving individual.
Over the course of my life I have frequently referred to a number of accomplished Black men as BIG GUYS. There was my father, and lengthy number of local persons, then there were international persons, national persons, and my long-time friend attorney Wendell Freeland.
I started in politics as an active Republican in the 1950s, and that is how I met Wendell, the beginning of a lifetime friendship. I recall during the turbulent ‘60s I took a super Black activist, who was in dire need of an attorney, to Wendell’s office. We went Downtown and he was dressed in African garb, bone in his nose, free name speaking phrases of Swahili. Once we reached Wendell’s office and I introduced them, he said, ‘you brought me to a White attorney’s office’ and I simply responded by saying, ‘he is the Blackest White man that you will ever meet.’
Attorney Wendell Freeland won his case and until the day he died, he would sing Wendell’s praises. Over the years Wendell and I had an unbelievable number of conversations about everything, but he would always bring his wife and his family into a conversation. The other conversations would be about the plight of Black peoples, and what we must do to improve our conditions, the Urban League and the Republican party. Wendell was an exceptional politician. He was not a typical ward healer who would help you get a traffic ticket fixed, but the most important politician that I ever associated with.