Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

July 30, 1955

On July 30, 1955, the Pittsburgh Courier featured a “Heroes in Blue” profile of Patrolman James Hughes. The feature was part of a ten-part series on black cops by Frank E. Bolden, a Courier reporter who served as a correspondent during World War II.

The editor’s note in the series introduction read: “Good policemen, or policewomen, are more than rough, tough guys. They are better than rough, tough guys. Even though the price of prudence and restraint, of intelligence and daring, may cost an officer his life, he must be equipped with the foregoing and with many other attributes gained only through experience. The good policeman is neither white nor colored. He is both. He is the good man. In the series of articles which starts this week in The Courier, Frank E. Bolden has dug into the files and come up with a brand new picture of the ‘Heroes in Blue.’ Some of them are men, some are women. Some have seen short service, some long. But all have faced danger beyond the call of duty.”

The final part of the series featured a former traffic patrolman named Leonard Brown. The paper said Brown, “the first Negro patrolman to work the downtown area, grew tired of waiting for a promotion, so retired. This ‘Hero in Blue’ currently operates a grocery store and meat market in the Homewood District.” Bolden wrote that this experience was common for many blacks on the Pittsburgh police force: “Unlike many of their white colleagues, their acts of bravery failed to gain promotions for them. THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN. All of them, according to their records, SHOULD HAVE BEEN PROMOTED. The fact that they WERE NOT, prompted the research and writing of ‘Heroes in Blue.’ Such an error or ‘oversight’ should not happen least it is hoped that it won’t happen again.”

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