“I made most of my money running this saloon. And most of that came from the gambling, so you’ll have to take my word when I say a thing or two about taking a chance.”
Edward Shaw finished pouring the whiskey and slid the tumbler across to the Republican Party official across from him. It was too early for the bar to be open, and this wasn’t a friendly meeting.
“They say if you’re poor, you’ve got nothing to lose.” Shaw poured himself one, and immediately downed it. “I say if you’re rich, you can afford to take a bigger risk than the people with nothing, and that’s what I aim to do.”
The party official pushed the proffered drink away with a frown.
“You still won’t beat him, Shaw. Not even if you got every negro in the whole state to vote for you.”
Shaw took the drink for himself, hissing through his teeth at the alcohol burn.
“You’re probably right. But you’ll lose, and you’ll spend the rest of the term stinging from that loss. And you know what? I bet next time the you won’t take us for granted and nominate a racist son of a bitch.”
Edward Shaw was a freed slave that became one of Memphis’s first advocates of racial equality. He made his money running a saloon and gambling hall, but used that money to start a newspaper and become a lawyer. He was the city’s first black wharf master, and a key ally of the local Republican Party. Which he proved to them in an election by splitting the vote against them because they ran an avowed racist.