I was in attendance last Saturday at a dinner, a formal affair held at a prestigious country club. As I sat and talked with persons around the table, it brought back memories of yesteryear when we were not permitted to be on the premises. I would often tell some White persons about how we were discriminated against in dining facilities and they would respond, “We were, too.”
It would be necessary to remind them that only Blacks were denied based on skin color. The next question would be, “How did you gain admittance?”
As I am writing this column, it comes to mind how ridiculous it was for Blacks to sue someone to accept our money. Some of you don’t remember, but a lot of us do…Black persons sued hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, skating rinks, swimming pools, amusement parks, dance halls, golf clubs, Elk Lodge, lack of taxicab service, rode buses but could not drive them…
Hospitals were extensions of racism, and Blacks even had to file suits against cemeteries. I will never forget the NAACP filed a discrimination suit against a local skating rink and won the case, but mysteriously the skating rink caught on fire and burned to the ground. Thus, Blacks never got a chance to use that skating rink. A number of movie theaters never denied us admittance, but Blacks were required to sit in the balcony.
There was a period of time that Blacks lived out that dream, “God Bless The Child That Has Its Own.” Yes, we were businesspersons who owned grocery stores, hotels, bars, photo studios, furriers, newspapers, restaurants, private clubs, skating rinks, bowling alleys, and were pharmacists, 200 Black men were truckers across Allegheny County…we owned funeral parlors, radio stations, television stations, realtors, banks, savings and loan, magazines, gas stations, pool rooms, barber shops, clothing stores (male and female), beauty parlors, pawn shops, jewelry, beer distributors, contractors, plumbers, electrical, insurance, cleaners, records, moving, landscapers and churches on every corner filled with the persons in the neighborhood.
I do understand that the current generation has not experienced what we have, and it is understandable that some don’t care. However, I am totally convinced that the overwhelming majority will focus on making a positive difference.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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