By Councilman Glynn Hines
Special to Frost Illustrated
Black History Month’s focus is a required experience for all when approached with honesty. Dr. John Crawford of the Fort Wayne City Council talks and writes about the ills of single mother parenting and the culture of having children out of wedlock and the ensuing poverty. As a history major at Manchester College (now Manchester University) I can remember my mentor Dr. David Waas, chairman of the history department, imparting his wisdom about the impact of the past on the present and the future. Most importantly he shared that “His Story” may not be “My Story” and it is all a matter of the perspective of the victor and not the victim. Native Americans will tell you a totally different history of the founding of Fort Wayne and the true legacy of “General Mad Anthony Wayne.”
As an athlete, I grew up playing on teams at the old Central High School in the ’60s and later watching teams like North Side with Sim Nelson, John Smiley and my brother Tim Hines in the ’70s and ’80s and Paul Harding High School go to state eight times in the early 2000s and get cheated by referees. The bitterness still bubbles to the surface today when I observe the same horrible calls at an athletic event. What some observers do not consider is what impact does the generational curse of white supremacy, latent and blatant racist policies and practices have on those who are most negatively impacted. Can you truly imagine the fear that law abiding young black males have on a daily basis who live in Florida and other “Stand Your Ground “ states.
As a society we must celebrate Black History, preferably daily and not just monthly, and the many accomplishments of those who came before us. At the State of the 6th District Address I always give honor to John Nuckols who was elected in 1959 as the very first African American to the Common City Council of Fort Wayne. I also praise Cletus Edmonds, Charles Redd, Archie Lunsey, and Victor Scruggs(appointed not elected) who have served on Council and represented central and southeast residents of the city. I consciously give a perspective to my peers on council and the community at large which most concerns us regarding housing, economic development and jobs, infrastructure improvements and a keen focus on education.
Since 1999, I have been in office and I have had the opportunity to recommend Tim Davies as the first African America fire chief, realizing that the very first black fireman Richard Ridley II was not hired until 1961 when John Nuckols and activist black ministers demanded the mayor hire a black into the department. Recently, Garry Hamilton was promoted to become the first African American police chief. Chief Hamilton stands on the shoulders of the first black police officers hired back in 1917, Samuel Stuart and Oliver Lee. Both Chief Davies and Chief Hamilton will be added to the local black history annals for significance of their legacy.
In conclusion, I feel compelled to mention the main reason why the gains that have been made were not given but demanded. And we must execute our right to vote for people who have our best interest in mind. The new voter suppression laws are directed at people of color because you helped elect President Barack Obama—twice! You must register and you must vote this year.
The attack on the food stamp recipients by legislators in congress is an attack on the generational poor. The rich and super rich get richer while congress fights against raising the minimum wage to a livable wage standard.
It is great to celebrate our rich history of contributions to America but we must also be an active participant in the vital changes that must be made so that the horrors of the past do not occur again.