Monthly Archive: August 2009



South African villagers praise world champion

by Donna BrysonAssociated Press WriterGA-MASEHLONG, South Africa (AP) — Caster Semenya’s grandmother remembers begging for money from friends and relatives to send the young runner to local track meets. On Friday she marveled at how far her granddaughter had come. CHAMPION CELEBRATED–South African athlete Caster Semenya, left, laughs with her grandmother Maphuthi Sekgala, right, during a celebration at the Ga-Masehlong village in Moletjie, 65km from Polokwane, South Africa, Friday Aug. 28, 2009. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) Semenya — the world’s new 800-meter champion — returned home to the village of Ga-Masehlong, where houses are of mud or concrete, and roofed with thatch or tin. Here, residents refused to let questions about her gender dampen their celebrations of her Aug. 19 victory in Germany. Villagers broke into song as Semenya arrived, and children swarmed around her with cheers.


New banks, opportunities in the Hill District

With the closing of Dwelling House Saving and Loan, Hill District residents who had accounts there now face new banking choices. All those accounts are currently being serviced by PNC Bank at the Dwelling House location on Centre Avenue, but they will be transferred to PNC’s existing branch across from the Hill House Association. PNC has a long record of serving Pittsburgh’s African-American community, opening branches in Homewood, the Hill District and predominantly Black neighborhoods on the North Side when other banks did not. Spokesman Frank Solomon told the New Pittsburgh Courier last week that he expects many of those customers to remain. NEW MONEY—Fifth Third Branch Manager Ralph Parks and Michele Y. Thompkins stand outside the bank’s newest branch at 2125 Centre Ave. in Pittsburgh’s Hill District.


Rev. Smith confirms G-20 tent city and march

Monumental Baptist Church Pastor Tom Smith and members of the New York-based group “Bail Out The People” said the city of Pittsburgh, the state and federal government need to focus on employment, not where protesters can and cannot congregate. “We feel that we need people to stand up and be vocal,” said Rev. Smith. “We need to make sure people have decent jobs to realize the American dream.” Speaking from a lot adjoining his church where a tent city will stand for unemployed and homeless G-20 protesters, Rev. Smith, who is still seeking volunteers to help the tent city and a march for jobs scheduled for Sept 20, said the site would take “as many as we can” and would be outfitted with port-o-johns and would have water for drinking and bathing. MAKING A STAND—Rev. Tom Smith of Monumental Baptist Church, third from left, joins members of “Bail Out The People” to announce a Sept. 20 march for jobs at the site of a “tent city” for homeless and unemployed G-20 protesters.


Getting there from here…How much will G-20 summit restrict traffic?

Will the Golden Triangle be off limits to cars, buses and trolleys? Will T riders have to walk to their Downtown businesses from Station Square? Will anyone who has to transfer buses Downtown to get to work in other parts of the city have to call off? How will students and faculty get to Point Park University, City High, CAPA or the Pittsburgh Culinary Institute? With the G-20 summit, and its security restrictions of a three-block restricted area around the David L. Lawrence Convention Center just a month away, the answer is—nobody knows. Port Authority Transit spokesman Jim Ritchie said the agency could only make the most general plans until it hears from the Secret Service. “We understand this is a sensitive situation. They will probably tell us at the last minute where we can and cannot go. We’ll probably be limited to a small area of Downtown, but it’s possible we may not be allowed in the Golden Triangle at all.” Jim RitchiePort Authority Transit spokesman


Editorial…Barack Obama’s presidency is legit

We are no longer surprised when rumor, embellishment and outright lies seem to have a longer and stronger life than the truth. In today’s anyone-is-a-pundit society, where opinions are as plentiful as ashcans, the steady attacks on Barack Obama have become almost their own industry. No wonder Fox News Network can boast that it had some of the highest ratings of any television network. But the persistence of the zealots who claim that Barack Obama is not qualified to be president of the United States because he was not born in the United States defies even that kind of explanation.


NAACP fights state graduation tests

On Aug. 13 the state Board of Education approved a system of testing that will determine whether a student is eligible to graduate from high school. Before the proposal had even been approved, the Education Committee of the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches released a resolution against the Keystone tests. “The state conference of the NAACP has unanimously voted its opposition,” said Joan Duvall-Flynn, chair of the education committee. “It systematically sorts Pennsylvania’s young people.” Beginning in the 2010-2011 school year, students would be required to take tests in math, English, science and social studies. The scores on these tests would equal one-third of their final grade in each subject.


Close to 150 gather for mentor training

On Aug. 22, 143 people gathered at Heinz Field for training in the Be a 6th Grade Mentor program. To date, 670 people have applied to be mentors to sixth-graders in eight Pittsburgh Public Schools. “What we’re going to do in Pittsburgh is make huge numbers of interventions,” said Pittsburgh Public School Superintendent Mark Roosevelt. “We think this will be a key piece to changing the outcomes for a whole variety of urban students.” Roosevelt joined the mentors-in-training during lunch to tell them his vision for the program and how their participation will help students become “college ready” by the time they graduate. POSITIVE ROLE MODEL—Mentor Will Johnson takes a break from the daylong training session at Heinz Field.


Urban League Young professionals serve across Pittsburgh

The Urban League Young Professionals of Greater Pittsburgh concluded their weekend of events with a donation of more than 900 school supply items to Mt. Ararat Baptist Church’s school supply campaign. The offering on Aug. 23 was the culmination of four days of events to showcase UYLP-GP’s new leadership and mission for the 2009-2010 term. “ULYP-GP has been empowering the lives of young professionals and assisting them in enhancing the communities in which they live, work, and serve for over seven years,” said ULYP-GP president Sabrina Saunders. “Our goal in establishing the ‘new ULYP’ is to foster a greater commitment to community and professional development of our membership.” YOUNG PROFESSIONALS —Sabrina Saunders welcomes everyone to the ‘It Takes a Village’ networking reception Aug. 20.


Speak Out: What is your reaction to the feds closing Dwelling House?

Dwelling House Savings and Loan in the Hill District was recently ordered closed by the federal government. We asked Pittsburghers what they thought and if they saved there and here’s what you said:“I’ve heard they’ve been in financial turmoil and have been hit hard by robberies. I think it’s sad since they’re alienated from the rest of the business district on Centre Avenue. I did not save there.”Leia WinbushHill District LEIA WINBUSH


Pittsburgher Clemmons takes naval command

SINGAPORE (NNS)—Capt. Richard L. Clemmons Jr. relieved Capt. William A. Kearns III as commander, Destroyer Squadron (COMDESRON) 31 in a ceremony held aboard the guided-missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37) July 30 at Changi Naval Base. “To say it has been a remarkable 17 months in command of DESRON 31 would be an understatement,” said Kearns, whose next assignment will keep him in Hawaii as Executive Assistant to Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “I can’t imagine a commodore having a more fulfilling tour.” RICHARD L. CLEMMONS JR.