There was an ambivalent relationship between Rizzo and the people. He was
admired and despised at the same time. He was a controversial man, and controversy is always difficult to deal with.
I have not been pleased with the way Rizzo handled certain situations. But who is or will ever be pleased with the way any politician handles anything?
I do not recall the incident some people are quick to bring to my attention involving the stripping of the Black Panthers in 1968. I've read about that incident, and I've also read about slavery. Neither will ever be forgotten, and I don't think that in this day and age, either is likely to happen again.
But as time goes on, situations and eras change. I guess you can say I'm
from the latter years of Frank Rizzo's era, so I don't feel as bitter and as angry as some of us about him. But because I am black, never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined I'd write an article on that man.
I was in a Center City bank when I overheard a teller mention that Rizzo had died. I thought it was a joke, and told her so. To prove her point she told me to listen to the PA system. There it was for everyone to hear.
"I thought he was too stubborn to die," I said to her.
My point for mentioning that is because he had that much of an impact for his death to be heard in a public place over a public address system.
My first thought was, "Damn, who am I going to vote for now?"
Philadelphia is a city that needs a strong leader with a larger-than-life persona. Frank Rizzo would have been that one.
Although no one human being can completely stop all the drug dealings and senseless killings, I believe Rizzo could have put a serious dent in those areas. And for that alone, he would have gotten my vote.
As far as any other candidate boasting about what they would do, I think it's all hype. Rizzo would have kept his word.
On the day of his funeral, I happened to be one of the many fortunate state workers who lined Broad Street outside the State Office Building to witness the end of an era. We (blacks and whites) stared in amazed disbelief as the body of the Big Bambino passed us.
Familiar faces, such as his wife's, Carmella, and Police Commissioner Willie Williams were visible.
Police cars from different counties were in full force.
As many people as there were out there, not once did I hear a negative word about the man.
As the last of the funeral procession went by, we broke out of our reverie and applauded.
The point I'm trying to make here is that no matter what our personal opinion is or was, the man had a tremendous effect on Philadelphia like no other politician has. His death brought tears to many eyes (which some of us can't understand).
Frank Rizzo was not my favorite person and he never affected me personally, but he was due all the attention he received because, like it or not, he was Mister Philadelphia.
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