Daily Archive: November 19, 2009



NUL report: Little recovery felt after six months for Black America

The state of the African-American community is the same across the country—low graduation rates coupled with high incarceration and unemployment rates. According to the National Urban League’s State of Black Pittsburgh, the recent recession has exacerbated these numbers with homeownership rates taking an extreme dip and many areas being hard-pressed to find any sign of recovery. MARC MORIAL “The gap between the races is very, very stubborn. The housing crisis is affecting everyone, but it is disproportionately affecting the Black community,” said National Urban League President Marc Morial. “We are in the front lines, working and fighting against that.” Each year the Urban League publishes The State of Black America, a report that looks at economics, education, health, civic engagement and social justice in the Black community. The annual report, published last March, offers several recommendations as well as an account of how the Urban League works to reverse disparities.


Pittsburgh Promise teams with CCAC

When Jahmiah Guillory entered his senior year, his grade point average was 1.7. Then during an assembly at Oliver High School, he learned about the Pittsburgh Promise, a program that helps pay for college for any Pittsburgh Public School student graduating with a 2.25 average. “At that time it was just mathematically possible for me to do that,” he told the audience at the Nov. 12 Graduate Pittsburgh Summit on reducing dropouts at the YWCA. “But I would have had to get 4.0s, four quarters in a row—well, I did. Now I’m at Penn State studying petroleum and gas engineering. I expect I’ll have about a 3.6 for my first semester grade.” SALUTING SUCCESS— Pittsburgh Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril congratulates Jahmiah Guillory, now at Penn State, for achieving two consecutive 4.0 GPA semesters in his senior year to qualify for the Promise scholarship. During his keynote speech, Pittsburgh Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril asked Guillory to address the audience because he exemplifies what the Promise hopes to achieve. Guillory, who grew up with seven siblings and a single mother in Northview Heights, is now the first in his family to attend college.


Awards shed light on murky YWCA past, bright future

This year’s YWCA Greater Pittsburgh Racial Justice Awards marked the 140th anniversary of the local branch. In honor of the anniversary, CEO Magdeline Jensen took the opportunity to look back on how the YWCA has handled issues of race over the past 140 years. “In short, for 140 years the women of the YWCA in Pittsburgh have been trying to do the ‘right thing’ for racial justice,” Jensen said. “We have not always exactly agreed as to what the right thing is, and we have not always proceeded in the right way—but we have had some success along this journey, and we keep working at it.” HONOREES—From left: Laurence Glasco, three members of the Nueve Lunas organization, George Miles, Grace Robinson, Father Regis Ryan, and Lisa Thorpe-Vaughn.


Schenley beats Oliver in double overtime thriller

It was the biggest game of the year and it, rightfully so, had the biggest finish. The Schenley Spartans outlasted Oliver, 34-32, in a double OT marathon to take their second title since 1950. “It’s good for the kids,” said Schenley’s head coach Jason Bell. “When we were in the stretch run, especially in the double overtime, the team wasn’t nervous at all. It was by far our worst performance of the season but our guys came through beautifully.” 2009 CITY LEAGUE CHAMPIONS—Schenley players and cheerleaders celebrate winning the City League title Nov. 13 after defeating Oliver 34-32 in two overtimes at Cupples Stadium. See page C-4 for story and more photos. Schenley will play Punxsutawney in a PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) Class AAA play-in round matchup at Dubois, Pa., Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. “We’re going to try to use our speed up there,” said Bell. “We have our big play guys in Jerome Mathews and DeAndre Black. With their skills and speed, I’m confident that they will make some things happen for us.”


Guest editorial…Is abortion coverage really an issue?

by Shannon Williams Members of Congress were finally able to pass a health care bill last Saturday night, but the feat wasn’t accomplished without controversy and compromise. The item that generated the most debate and conciliation was abortion. For years, abortion has been an issue with unfaltering supporters and opponents. This divisiveness was ever-present during the final discussions of the congressional health care reform bill. In order to get the bill approved, congressional members had to compromise. The negotiation resulted in the passage of the bill as long as it stated that abortions wouldn’t be covered in a government-run plan, or in private plans that accept anyone using government subsidies. Exceptions to this ruling are cases of incest, rape or harm to the mother.


Summit yields recommendations, commitments

In an effort to reduce dropout rates in the Pittsburgh Public School District, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl convened leaders from several city partnerships for an all-day summit. Along with Superintendent Mark Roosevelt and Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board President Mary Richter, the mayor signed “Pittsburgh’s Multiple Education Pathways Blueprint,” a document proposing several recommendations to ensure students graduate and prepare them for post-secondary education training or employment. MULTI-SECTOR—From left: Panelists Rev. Monica Hawkins; Derrick Lopes; Mary Frances Archey, vice president for learning and student development for the Community College of Allegheny County; J. Mike Schweder, president of AT&T Mid Atlantic; and Kimberly Booth with discussion moderator Ed Gainey, coordinator of economic development for the mayor’s office. The blueprint signed at the Graduate Pittsburgh Summit Nov. 12 at the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh Downtown facility, was only the beginning of a series of activities to address the dropout rate. While Ravenstahl and other sponsors pledged to move forward with the plan, others spent the rest of the day in a series of breakout sessions and panel discussions.


Data IDs 6th grade dropout indicators

In convening his Graduate Pittsburgh Summit, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said the issue of the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ dropout rate called for a “very serious discussion” because it bears on the city’s future viability. “We want every student to graduate and to graduate college-ready,” he told the Summit audience at the YWCA, Nov. 12. SCHOOL CLOSINGS— From left: NAACP First Vice President Connie Parker and President Gayle Moss lead the march in front of the Pittsburgh Public School Board building. Superintendent of Schools Mark Roosevelt agreed, saying the district has to be flexible in its approach to learning, providing as many ways for students to learn as possible, three-year or five-year programs, and support for students with problems.


City honors Brotha Ash

The council of the city of Pittsburgh recognized Ashley G. Woodson aka Brotha Ash for his strong will, determination and belief in the African-American community…


Onorato to appeal assessment ruling

Joined by Allegheny County Council members John Defazio, Jim Burns, Rich Fitzgerald and Bill Robinson, County Executive Dan Onorato said the county would appeal a plan ordered by Common Pleas Judge Stanton R. Wettick Jr. that calls for all properties to be reassessed by 2014. “Every homeowner in the state is just a lawsuit away from a tax increase,” he said. “This is a statewide issue, and Common Pleas judges shouldn’t be dictating assessment policy.”


Community Calendar

Farmers market NOV. 19—The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture will host the Market Square Farmers Market at 10 a.m. at Gateway Center Plaza, Commonwealth Place, Downtown. Area farmers will have more than 50 varieties of produce, pastas and smoked meats. PASA is a nonprofit organization that seeks to transform agriculture and food systems in Pennsylvania in a way that makes farmers more viable, improves the land and restores the health and well-being of citizens.