As I listened to the minister who eulogized Aretha Franklin, I thought his message was not inaccurate, but the time and place were not appropriate. Some readers may ask, what remarks am I referring to, because some persons thought the remarks made by Rev. Al Sharpton were the eulogy.
The minister was out of Atlanta, and his opening remarks were criticism of the actions of Black folks. He said, “If a White police officer kills a Black person we riot, but if two Blacks are killed by another Black we say so what.” He spoke about the absence of Black-owned businesses and compared it against yesteryear.
As I listened to the minister it brought back my personal memories of Wylie Avenue and the era of thriving Black businesses. Wylie Avenue started Downtown with a Black-owned parking garage and extended the length of the Hill District and included every kind of Black-owned business to Herron Avenue. Now, in 2018, as I drive down Wylie, there are five churches, one mosque, two bars, one store, an insurance company, two restaurants. I recall the only shootings were in the movies with the cowboys and Indians, not in the neighborhoods. There was the Ammon, YMCA, Kay Boy Club, Wadsworth Hall, Hill City, all were recreational facilities, all are now closed. Do you remember when we were neighbors and friends and all adults were respected? I still remember, we walked to church every Sunday and almost every house we passed, the radio was on and world-famous choir Wings Over Jordan would be singing.
Yes, those are memorable years when we had been introduced to what would prove to be the most powerful institution we would ever be affiliated with; the Black Church.
What happened? Before Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Paul Robeson, Thurgood Marshall, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., fathers, Rev. Clayton Powell, Sojourner Truth, Marcus Garvey, all are great persons. But the most powerful institution came first and it must be reborn…The Black Church.
Those of us who profess to love the Lord and attend church must insist that if our churches only sing, pray and preach, that we have an obligation to extend ourselves beyond the four walls.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
Follow @NewPghCourier on Twitter https://twitter.com/NewPghCourier