In the ‘60s during the height of the civil rights movement, there were unbelievable numbers of White persons who were active participants. The question being asked is, whatever happened to them, as they grew to manhood and womanhood? It is an established fact that the grandparents, parents and relatives of untold numbers of these White marchers were the CEOs and captains of a multitude of the industries whose hiring policies or lack of were a major focus of the civil rights movements. All of us, Black, White, young, old, males and females who were active participants had a reason.
There were those who have been beaten down by the system, never had a decent job, a new car, rented room, beaten up by a racist system who had reached a point that they said, “not going to take it anymore.”
Racism contrary to what the persons in charge proclaimed ran rampant in the North and the South. Pittsburgh is a perfect example of the overwhelming effects of discrimination. White persons would deny that fact. There were untold numbers of Black persons who were denied union jobs, political jobs, police positions, discrimination at the amusement parks, swimming pools, roller skating rinks, certain banks discouraged Blacks from opening accounts, denied mortgages, insurance companies denied us, cemeteries segregated their burial plots, etc. WE referred to Pittsburgh as UP SOUTH. There were those who hated the way we were treated and would do anything to improve the system. Blacks tried the political system by voting a straight ticket for 70 out of 80 years and wound up being taken for granted so just voting was not an absolute answer. Vast numbers of persons who now are so disenchanted with the political process take to the streets. There were no neighborhoods that were overwhelmingly Black, we went to neighborhood schools and they were predominantly White.
I attended elementary school located in the midst of Polish town and it was predominantly White. Herron Hill Jr. High was the same, and Fifth Avenue High was the same, so we grew up with White neighbors and classmates.
It is my personal belief that our White classmates were not as indifferent to our problems as their parents and grandparents were, and that became a driving factor in their overwhelming participation during the civil rights movement. These White persons who not only filled the ranks during the demonstrations gave their talents, time, money and even the ultimate price, that being their lives.
The unanswered question is, what happened to these concerned driven warriors once they replaced their fathers and grandfathers as CEOs and captains of industry? In the year of 2018, the war against poverty, unemployment, incarceration, racism, bigotry, still rages.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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