The yr when Manfred Reid Sr. was born, 1936, was the identical yr that the final Black man was publicly hanged by the justice system in the USA — and it occurred in his residence state of Kentucky.
“So, my socialization as a toddler from my mother and father was being conscious of the chance of being harmed by simply transferring round throughout the neighborhood the place you lived,” Reid stated.
Thirty-two years later, in 1968, this lurking risk of unprovoked violence caught as much as Reid, who by then was the proprietor of a worthwhile actual property enterprise. A Louisville police officer attacked Reid with a blackjack whereas he was checking to see if a good friend who was being questioned was OK.
Reid sustained a number of strikes after which was arrested.
The officer was suspended at first however then reinstated by a Civil Service Board. This sparked what activists referred to as the Louisville Rebel: shut to at least one week of protest from a Black neighborhood sick of police violence and racial inequality.
Protesters acquired no concessions, and town charged Reid and 5 different Black individuals, most of whom he barely knew, with conspiracy to destroy property and to explode West Finish chemical crops. A decide discovered the “Black Six,” as they had been referred to as, not responsible, however Reid had already misplaced all the pieces: his license, the enterprise, his spouse and assist from the neighborhood.
Earlier than 1968, Reid had actively supported the civil rights motion and had even labored with an legal professional to eradicate restrictions for Black individuals who needed to purchase properties from white individuals. However, Reid didn’t contemplate himself an activist.
“I by no means participated in demonstrations. You understand, as a enterprise individual you simply don’t try this,” he stated. “… It simply wasn’t my temperament to get entangled like that.”
The occasions of 1968 despatched Reid on a life journey that crescendoed with him turning into a Louisville inexpensive housing advocate, a task that he nonetheless fulfills at 84 because the long-time chair of the Louisville Metro Housing Authority.
In those self same 52 years, the world has modified in some methods however remained the identical in others, Reid observes. Police, he believes, are nonetheless at odds with the Black neighborhood. And, Breonna Taylor’s capturing loss of life is proof of that. However, as Louisville is caught up in its greatest racial justice motion since 1968 — impressed this time by Taylor as an alternative of Reid — he sees hope for progress.
Reid believes the tradition of legislation enforcement in America is similar because it was in 1968 when he was crushed by an officer. And, he says it’s the identical as when publicly funded forces first emerged in the USA to guard property and protect slavery.
Primarily, police have by no means thought of Black individuals to be human, Reid stated, and their responsibility is to protect the white neighborhood from the Black neighborhood.
He was reminded of this when Louisville police killed Taylor, a Black lady, in a botched raid on March 13.
However, the protests Reid is seeing in response are totally different than what he’s witnessed earlier than. The demonstrators are extra numerous; the protesters through the Louisville Rebel had been largely Black. Demonstrators additionally keep a camaraderie that continues over time, Reid stated. “We didn’t have that.”
Reid thinks Taylor, in contrast to him, will obtain justice — that the law enforcement officials who shot their weapons might be indicted and, hopefully, convicted.
There are elements of the 2020 protests that fear Reid, notably the response of the far-right, who’ve introduced their weapons to counter-protests. Black militias just like the Not Fucking Round Coalition have carried out the identical.
“This seems to me to be a precursor of a way more troublesome time to come back as a racial battle between the races,” Reid stated. “I hope that’s not true. However, in the event that they’re each going round with weapons — either side — and the federal government being what it’s at present, it solely takes a spark for a bunch of individuals to get killed.”
However, Reid thinks it’s potential for legislation enforcement to vary if officers observe the lead of the neighborhood.
“Regulation enforcement is an instrument of presidency,” he stated. “So, the federal government has to start to hitch the neighborhood within the initiating modifications that create a tranquil neighborhood.”
Flash-points like Reid’s assault and Taylor’s loss of life can create the chance for these cultural shifts.
“Individuals don’t change in a single day,” Reid stated. “And so they don’t change since you ask them to vary. There must be circumstances in time that creates the chance by which individuals can start to take consideration of their existence and discover a new path.”
A PERSONAL JOURNEY
At 10 years outdated, Reid turned an orphan.
His mom and father had moved the household from Reid’s hometown close to Hazard, Kentucky, to the Parkland neighborhood of Louisville in 1944.
Reid’s father, a coal miner, died of black lung in 1945. His mom handed in 1947.
Raised from there by his uncle, Reid knew he needed to work to outlive.
Even earlier than his mother and father died, Reid bought newspapers. From there, he transitioned to delivering groceries. Then, to promoting footwear and dealing as a janitor at Vacation Shoe Retailer on Fourth Avenue. Reid’s supervisor fired him from that job after Reid praised the Brown v. Board of Schooling Supreme Court docket determination.
Reid needed to drop out of Bellarmine School as a result of he didn’t come up with the money for to remain at school. However, after getting married and having children, a good friend persuaded Reid to grow to be an actual property salesman. They solicited residence consumers for a realty firm whereas finding out for his or her salesman examination. Reid later handed his dealer examination, too.
It was a fruitful time to start out a realty firm when Reid started his personal enterprise in his late 20s or early 30s. Nearly each Sunday, Reid discovered himself exhibiting homes.
“It was fairly vigorous,” he stated. “There was the concept of Blacks might purchase homes wherever in The West Finish, and that created a way of pleasure. And folks needed to get out on the weekends and on Sundays to see what they might discover.”
It was additionally an essential second for civil rights. Black individuals throughout the nation had been calling for equal remedy. In Louisville, civil rights activists had been organizing sit-ins at Fourth Avenue lunch counters.
On Could eight, 1968, Reid was driving east on Broadway with two fellow Black businessmen (Walter “Pete” Cosby and Luther Wilson) once they noticed a good friend being questioned by police. The good friend was a Black instructor named Charles Thomas. Reid didn’t know this, however police stated that they had stopped Thomas as a result of he was driving a automotive just like one utilized in a housebreaking.
Reid, Cosby and Wilson stopped the automotive and bought out to verify nothing occurred to Thomas. “We had been conscious of the chance we confronted simply by making an attempt to supply our help to him,” Reid stated, “however we strive to try this.”
They addressed Thomas, asking him if he wanted assist and watched as he bought arrested.
“We stated, ‘We’ll come up and get you out on bail,’” Reid stated. “Then, the one police officer, Michael Clifford, he jumped up and stated, ‘Get out of the road.’ So, we began complying with him.”
However Clifford didn’t relax. He took out his blackjack and hit Reid. By that point, round 200 Black neighborhood members had gathered to look at the scene, yelling from the sidelines, in response to the UK’s Notable Kentucky African Individuals database.
Reid and the officer tussled, Reid stated. One other blow adopted, presumably even a 3rd or fourth one — Reid isn’t positive. He used his arms to protect himself. It could have been regular, anticipated even, for Reid to be mangled or killed by the officer, he stated. However, the assault led to bruises and an evening in jail.
The officer was suspended. Reid was left with a sense that he did one thing flawed. It may need been over. However, one thing a lot worse was coming for Reid.
On Could 23, the Civil Service Board reinstated Clifford, and Black Louisville revolted.
Over 2,000 Nationwide Guardsmen had been referred to as in. Round 400 individuals had been arrested, two teenagers had been killed and property harm abounded.
Reid didn’t take part within the protests.
Though, someday, when the crowds got here to 20th Avenue, he left his residence to look at from a distance.
As Reid watched town burn in his identify, he realized that he is likely to be in hassle of his personal. He tried to evaluate how a lot. After the protests, he bought his reply.
Reid discovered by studying the newspaper grand jury convened by Commonwealth’s Lawyer Edwin A. Schroering Jr. had indicted him and 5 different individuals for conspiracy.
Reid lived a mile from The West Finish chemical crops he was accused of plotting to explode. And, he personally knew just one different supposed co-conspirator: Pete Cosby, his good friend who he carried out enterprise with.
Reid knew of Ruth Bryant, Robert Kuyu Sims and Samuel Hawkins — all native Black activists who lived within the neighborhood. However, earlier than the protests, he had no data of James Cortez, an activist that Bryant and Sims had invited to Louisville for the protests. Bryant and Sims had been members of the Black City League of Kentucky, which held the primary protest of the Rebel.
Collectively, they had been dubbed the Black Six. The rationale they had been indicted, Reid’s positive, was racism.
Their courtroom case continued for round two years. A Louisville decide finally dominated the Black Six not responsible. However throughout that point, Reid’s life had collapsed.
The Actual Property Fee, a conservative group, stripped him of his license. All the pieces else essential to him quickly adopted.
Nobody needed to affiliate with Reid, even the remainder of the Black Six. In the event that they did, it could simply invite suspicion from investigators.
“After they break you,” Reid stated, “everytime you start to lose your banking credibility and also you lose your neighborhood assist out of worry and also you lose the household, you’re alone. And also you simply merely have to start to attempt to rebuild your life.”
FROM BUSINESSMAN TO ACTIVIST
The courtroom case that took all the pieces from Reid additionally gave him a brand new objective.
Left with nothing else, Reid turned to activism. Certainly one of his first positions echoed his time within the housing enterprise. He turned a member of the West Finish Neighborhood Council, which tried to curb white flight in Louisville’s Western neighborhoods. Reid joined whereas nonetheless combating his courtroom case.
Throughout that very same interval, he began working with Anne and Carl Braden’s Southern Convention Academic Fund, or SCEF.
To clarify why he bought into activism, Reid pulled out a decision he helped go at a SCEF Board of Director’s assembly. The primary sentence reads, “The essence of freedom in any society is the facility to find out coverage each economically and politically and the management of cultural improvement all through the neighborhood.”
“That’s what I wrote in 1970,” Reid stated. “That was my notion of social change and financial change in The West Finish of Louisville. So, the extra I noticed the depth of these social points that I used to be entangled in, I started to search out assist, counsel and route by means of SCEF.”
Nearly 20 years later, after Reid was pressured to maneuver into Beecher Terrace, he turned the president of the general public housing developments’ resident affiliation. Then, Mayor David Armstrong appointed Reid to be a commissioner of the Louisville Metro Housing Authority. Since 2000, Reid has been the chair of the board.
In his time on the board, Reid is happy with updating, and in some instances changing, nearly the entire metropolis’s publicly-owned housing complexes: Cotter and Lang Houses, Sheppard Sq. and Clarksdale. Critics argue that a few of these initiatives have displaced residents, however Reid stands by them.
His time, although, is sort of over. Following his enterprise instincts, he’s specializing in tips on how to arrange the Housing Authority for the long run.
“Based mostly on the mission of the housing authority, how do I start to take part in setting the stage for the way forward for housing manufacturing and an assault on poverty, offering livable wages and new concepts by way of residence possession because it pertains to advertising and financing?” Reid stated. “These are the visions that we have to have for the long run.” •