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92-year-old Akron man shares perspective, importance of voting

Election season marks a time when young adults and old can express themselves through their right to vote.

AKRON, Ohio — There are countless stories Leaston Drone has shared with family and friends. At the age of 92, the stories are shared with a purpose.

“When I would go to golf course they would ask me my handicap," Drone said. "And I’d have to tell them that the only handicap that I had was being Black and poor.”

Drone loved the game of golf. He was a member of the East High School golf team in 1940's.

Drone would often play at city-owned Good Park golf course. It was one of only two courses that allowed access to Black golfers, according to Akron historian David Lieberth.

"It was an issue for any person of African-American decent who was trying to be a golfer," said Lieberth. "They had very limited options. There was prejudice not only in terms of allowing Black golfers to play but also employment."

When it was time to speak up for a change, Drone turned to voting.

"I think everyone should vote that’s old enough so they can get the treatment that they need to have through life and don’t have to put the kids through a lot of the things we went through." said Drone.

Voting meant an opportunity for a better life.

"We got a chance at a decent job and a better education."

Leiberth said city leaders started to take notice and implement change.

"It was clear that one of the motivating factor that white political leaders recognized was that black voters were a strong voting block in the city and were deserving of their attention," said Lieberth.

At the time when Black golfers were denied access at most courses, the Tiretown Golf Club was founded in Akron by a group of golfers in the 1950's. Today, the organization is involved in community outreach, helping to provide scholarship opportunities for students and voter registration.

"Our members have been involved in a number of voter registration drives as part of our commitment to the community," said Ralph Paulk, president of the Tiretown Golf Club.

At every chance, and no matter the election year, Drone is sure to remind his family and friends to cast their ballot.

"He would reassure you, you know, 'you need to vote,'" said Drone's daughter, Karolyn Drone Smith. "Today is the day you need to vote. Those are the habits he’s instilled in me and my children as well."

Smith, an author, said she has documented some of the conversations with her dad in hopes of sharing it with others.

Along with voting, Drone offered another piece of advice to help make a difference in the lives of generations to come.

"To have respect for their fellow man," said Drone. "Have respect for each other. It’s one of the greatest things I can think of."

There are countless stories Leaston Drone has shared with family and friends. At the age of 92, the stories are shared with a purpose.

“When I would go to golf course they would ask me my handicap," Drone said. "And I’d have to tell them that the only handicap that I had was being Black and poor.”

Drone loved the game of golf. He was a member of the East High School golf team in 1940's.

Drone would often play at city-owned Good Park golf course. It was one of only two courses that allowed access to Black golfers, according to Akron historian David Lieberth.

"It was an issue for any person of African-American decent who was trying to be a golfer," said Lieberth. "They had very limited options. There was prejudice not only in terms of allowing Black golfers to play but also employment."

When it was time to speak up for a change, Drone turned to voting.

"I think everyone should vote that’s old enough so they can get the treatment that they need to have through life and don’t have to put the kids through a lot of the things we went through." said Drone.

Voting meant an opportunity for a better life.

"We got a chance at a decent job and a better education."

Leiberth said city leaders started to take notice and implement change.

"It was clear that one of the motivating factor that white political leaders recognized was that black voters were a strong voting block in the city and were deserving of their attention," said Lieberth.

At the time when Black golfers were denied access at most courses, the Tiretown Golf Club was founded in Akron by a group of golfers in the 1950's. Today, the organization is involved in community outreach, helping to provide scholarship opportunities for students and voter registration.

"Our members have been involved in a number of voter registration drives as part of our commitment to the community," said Ralph Paulk, president of the Tiretown Golf Club.

At every chance, and no matter the election year, Drone is sure to remind his family and friends to cast their ballot.

"He would reassure you, you know, 'you need to vote,'" said Drone's daughter, Karolyn Drone Smith. "Today is the day you need to vote. Those are the habits he’s instilled in me and my children as well."

Smith, an author, said she has documented some of the conversations with her dad in hopes of sharing it with others.

Along with voting, Drone offered another piece of advice to help make a difference in the lives of generations to come.

"To have respect for their fellow man," said Drone. "Have respect for each other. It’s one of the greatest things I can think of."