Ernest J. Waits, Sr.
Ernest Waits grew up in Cincinnati, OH in the West End where he attended the Sands School. When he was a student he was told by his teacher that he had to share a textbook due to the short supply. When Waits attempted to share with a white person his teach told him no and that he had to share with black kids in the class.
"They made a civil rights fighter out of me that day, I was hurt. The next time something like that happened, I challenged it and I've been challenging things all the way through."
Later on in life Ernest Waits would go on to Woodward High School and demand for integration of the school swimming pool and proms, both were desegregated the following year. In 1939 Waits took matters into his own hands when he decided to integrate the Schubert Theater where a black comedian, Eddie Anderson, was performing. An act of his disobedience that would later be used as a strategy by Martin Luther King, Jr. Following the incident Ernest Waits would later be arrested and sent to jail. He was then bailed out by Theodore Berry, counsel for the Cincinnati NAACP chapter. These two men developed a friendship and with several others fought for equal rights and desegregation in around the city through the 1940's-50's. The group went on to integrate places like the Wright Factory, Coney Island and local Cincinnati restaurants.
He was really interesting in changing the way we lived."- Courtis Fuller, friend of Ernest Waits, Sr.
Throughout the rest of his life Waits would go on to serve in the U.S. Army and run for the Ohio House of Representatives. In the late 50's he became the first African-American to hold the position of assistant sales manager for two car dealerships and also become the city of Cincinnati first black registered broker's representative. During the 1960's Waits spent of his time assisting other blacks find decent jobs, an initiative that led him to start his own employment consultant firm, Cincinnati Business League.
My father was just living proof that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything."- Ernest Waits, Jr.
Rebecca Goodman "Civil Rights Fighter Ernie Waits Dies" October 22, 2004