Streets ’n Suits forum encourages dialogue between Black men

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by Karen Harris Brooks

The title of the forum was not the Streets VERSUS the Suits. The correct title was the “Streets ’n Suits,” a combined effort to encourage dialogue between a gathering of young men from the streets of Pittsburgh and a group of men and women who represent the city’s corporate America.

Each individual brought to the table diverse perspectives aimed toward issues that plague the African-American community. In so doing, they opened a door they hope will provide a viable means of communication. Through open dialogue, the groups are working toward growth and possible solutions to address the problems plaguing the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh.

ConcernedCitizens-EdGainey
CONCERNED CITIZENS— Ed Gainey, second from right, speaks to the group. From left: Darryl Cann, Tim Stevens, Lee Davis and Stephan Broadus look on.

Unaware that many of the “suits” hail from the very same streets, it was an innovative avenue that unlocked the door to a very candid and lengthy discussion. The meeting proved to be insightful to both today’s youths as well as the mature confidence of those attired in business suits. When one young man inquired about the visible lack of “suits” in African-American communities, the young people were informed of those who sit in board rooms rallying behind the scenes for funding programs within these neighborhoods, etc., thereby providing the necessary resources for the implementation of said projects.

The efforts of Bernadette Turner and Darcel Madkins, co-founders and consultants of the African American Leadership Association, have proven to be a positive undertaking. The young professionals are working diligently to bring together the wisdom of the city’s seasoned African-American leaders and the bold energy of young men from the street who are seeking promise and hope for a brighter future. “As leaders,” states Turner, “we have to make progressive decisions that benefit the entire community. Once that begins to happen, the lives of the youth improve.”

Tim Stevens of the Black Political Empowerment Project said he’s “extremely impressed” with the AALA and is convinced that this new emerging leadership will make strides in that these young leaders are “closer to the pulse of the streets.” He describes Turner “as wise beyond her years” and he “appreciates the wisdom of knowledge afforded the older leaders who are embracing the creativity and energy” of a new generation. Stevens calls it a “beautiful mosaic of action.”

As the organization strives to promote leadership within the African-American community, the open forum of dialogue will continue to bring these unique groups together. By doing so, receptive young men from the street will continue to voice their opinions to the suits who work in corporate America. And the voice of corporate America will continue to be heard throughout the streets of Pittsburgh.

On Dec. 12, from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., a forum will be held at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. The forum is sponsored by the Metro Urban Institute of the Seminary, the Black Political Empowerment Project, the Coalition Against Violence and the Center for Victims of Violence and Crime.

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