It must become a priority to focus on the development of local Black businesses and new nonprofit organizations. A number of nonprofits have been in existence for a number of years and some have been productive, but longevity in itself should not be grounds for them to continue receiving the financial support of foundations and governmental bodies.
Pittsburgh must be the most unique city in America for a number of reasons. The Black population is about 28 percent and the percentage is currently unable to generate any political power. There are non-existing Black business corridors in East Liberty, Homewood, Hill District and other communities.
White politicians state privately that those people [Blacks] don’t vote anymore so why be concerned? Some were never concerned and others have just given up, but there exists untold numbers of US who will never surrender. Our new battlefield must become a sustained war against those who would bring Black contractors from out of state, and I contend at the expense of local Black contractors.
The critics will state that there is non-existence of local Black contractors. But let’s ask ourselves why. In cities such as Cleveland, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago and New York, successful Black contractors exist mainly because there were those in positions of power to ensure that Blacks were afforded opportunities. That is what local Black contractors have asked—to be afforded an opportunity.
Some years ago when Maynard Jackson was the mayor of Atlanta, Ga., a contract to build the new Atlanta airport was awarded to a Black contractor named Herman Russell. There was tremendous flack from the traditional contractors who had a blank check for year after year, mayor after mayor to build everything. Maynard stood firm and stated that if Russell did not build the airport it would not get built. Russell built the airport.
This opportunity propelled H.J. Russell & Co. to the position of number one Black contractor in America. We in Pittsburgh will stand strong and demand that local contractors must be afforded a genuine opportunity. There are a limited number and I recognize that, but there are two that I am definitely convinced if given the opportunity will excel. They are Cosmo Technologies, whose president is Frederick Douglas, and Six Degrees with President Robert Lawson Jr.
A relatively new nonprofit organization is Your Sister’s Project. They have provided women with brand new computers, helped three women secure down payments to buy homes and a dozen women with funds to attend advanced schooling. There are some additional programs, such as financial literacy, how to solve mortgage problems that help young females with children make the transition to becoming a responsible adult and mother. On a personal level one of their most impressive programs is one that teaches not to get a job, but more importantly, provides them with the necessary skills to become self-employed. Yes, an entrepreneur. They even have a program that teaches them how to do their own taxes.
The youths at Kingsley Association still need your financial assistance.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)