Very little change in city of Warren


As a young lad in Warren, the city in which I was born, black children were relegated to swim in the Mahoning River or wherever we could find water in the summer.

In the mid-1940s, we were not allowed to swim in the Packard Park swimming pool because of our color. In the local theaters, we had to sit on the right-hand side of the theater unless it had a balcony, such as the Robins, Harrison Warren or the Post theater. In those theaters, we had to sit in the balcony.

Wineberger Drug Store, Kressgees Five and Dime, and Woolworth’s Five and Dime, we could order take-outs but not sit at the lunch counter to eat our meal.

The Streamliner, which was across from Robins Theater, had an incident happen when Mr. James Calver Sr. tried to eat at the counter. He was met with racist remarks, had coffee poured upon him and cigarettes put out on him.

One of our outstanding black doctors, Dr. Brown, built a new house on Parkman Road which was bombed.

We, as young folk, were members of the Urban League and felt like we were being left out as citizens of Warren. We formed a group of young folks and marched around Packard Pool until the mayor relented and we were given one day to swim in the city pool, which was called “Colored Wednesday.” After they found that the water didn’t turn colors, the next year they allowed us to swim on a regular basis.

Our local newspaper, The Warren Tribune Chronicle, had a very small column written by Mrs. Effie Haden called “Colored News.” We marched around the Tribune until they changed that.

I graduated from Warren G. Harding High School, served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and found that in the South, segregation was the same as it was in my hometown.

After being honorably discharged, I joined Southern Christian Leadership Council and made the march not only to the ”I Have A Dream” march in Washington, D.C., but also the second march to Selma, Ala.

It is ironic that 53 years later, my wife and I recently wanted to go to see black history as it was back in the 1960s. To no avail, the movie “The Butler” is not being shown at our local theaters. Possibly because of its racial undertones – even though it is being shown in a local theater in Mahoning County, the Austintown Theater. Little has changed in my 80 years of being a citizen in Warren.

Dr. F. Robert Williams