In the year 1949, it was my introduction to politics in Pittsburgh, and for all intents and purposes it was a one political party city. The last time Pittsburgh had a Republican mayor was 1937, 81 years ago. Upon returning from the U.S. Army in 1954 I became an active member of a non-functioning Republican Party, particularly in Pittsburgh. My involvement in the Republican Party resulted in my getting to know and working with some of the most knowledgeable and committed Black persons in the nation. These individuals, in conjunction with my parents, church, etc., were major contributors to positive factors over my entire life.
The colored sections of the city were registered 85 percent Democrat and they would vote straight Democrat no matter who the candidate was. We are and were the only bloc of votes that were counted before the election polls opened.
Prior to registering for any political party I analyzed what the benefits were that were received by the colored voters for the astronomical bloc of votes given to the Democratic Party. I have always been an avid reader and understood early in life that you could not believe everything that you were reading.
My parents were born in the deep South, father, Alabama, mother, Georgia. Their four children were born Up South (Pittsburgh). We went to Alabama many years ago and two incidents stand out…We were denied the right to swim in the creek (poor house creek) on certain days, we stopped to buy gas, my father said to the attendant fill it up and the response was, “Fill it up yourself, I don’t gas n____ers cars.” For a long period of time I would attribute those incidents to the fact we were in the deep South. As I became more knowledgeable about politics and the mistreatment of Black persons it was apparent how much we had in common with the deep South. The Pittsburgh school system was all-White, administration, schoolteachers, counselors, janitors, cafeteria employees. The City of Pittsburgh discriminated across the board, practically in every department. It was in the 1960s when the NAACP and others sued the city to hire Blacks on the police department. Blacks were denied the right to eat in restaurants, swimming pools, dance halls, skating rinks, be buried in certain cemeteries, hospitals, service, mortgages, denied the right to rent apartments and in the current year of 2018 Blacks are still being denied contracts in spite of the statistics that are being printed. The state of Pennsylvania, at a period of time, had more KKK chapters than Alabama and Mississippi combined.
In 2018, Blacks still vote straight Democrat and don’t receive their fair share.
The Republican Party continues to have a non-functioning political party in Pittsburgh.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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