Daily Archive: November 25, 2009


Courier honors Men of Excellence…Educators, journalists, CEOs and fallen hero among those feted

Since 2003, the New Pittsburgh Courier has honored men from across the greater Pittsburgh area for their professional excellence and dedication to the community. This year’s list of 50 men gathered with family, friends and colleagues for a sold out awards reception at the Rivers Club that drew more than 300 people Nov. 19. “It’s humbling and it makes you want to work that much harder. I have the deepest appreciation that anyone can feel to be noticed,” said Rev. Dr. William Curtis. “To a large degree I try to make sure I not only serve my members, but the community at-large.” Like Rev. Curtis, the other honorees expressed their gratitude for being noticed. Several awardees also said it was especially important to be recognized by the Black community and an African-American newspaper in particular.


Tyler Perry donates $1M to NAACP

Washington, D.C.—The NAACP, the country’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, announced Nov. 23 that acclaimed film director Tyler Perry has donated $1 million, marking the largest gift ever given by an individual. In addition, Perry purchased several NAACP commissioned Jacob Lawrence lithographs and additional lithographs by artists Elizabeth Catlett, Sam Gilliam and Jonathan Green. The gift, which will be distributed over the next four years, was made to commemorate the organization’s centennial anniversary. TYLER PERRY “We are honored that Tyler Perry chose to support the NAACP,” said Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP. “Tyler is a courageous pioneer in bringing positive images of African-American culture and struggles to the screen. His remarkable journey from poverty and childhood abuse to become one of the world’s most successful filmmakers and entrepreneurs is an inspiration to us all,” Bond said.


Whitfield and Dias families living with pain after killings

Donna Whitfield knows her son wasn’t a saint, but he wasn’t a devil either, and he did not deserve to be gunned down on the streets of Homewood by a teen he didn’t even know. He was in a good place things were going good,” she said. “He was up the street just shooting pool. I miss him. I love him. It’s a great pain to lose a child. But it’s a greater pain to think that this kid believes he can just take a life—and his sorry mother won’t even say she’s sorry for her sorry son.” HOLDING ON— Donna Whitfield hangs on to the flyer announcing her slain son’s funeral. Stefan Whitfield, 34, of Wilkinsburg, was smoking marijuana with an acquaintance outside the now closed Mac Can Do bar on Brushton Avenue when 19-year-old Julian Larkins began firing at them. Whitfield’s friend was grazed by a bullet before he made it around the corner. Whitfield didn’t get that far, he fell to the sidewalk with a fatal wound to the head.


Operation Better Block takes to the streets…Abandoned homes top Homewood resident concern

Operation Better Block is on a mission to conduct 1,000 surveys through the month of November to find out what Homewood residents want to see in their community. To date, with a staff of less than 20, the group has talked to more than 700 people, with just one week left to go. So far, abandoned homes have climbed to the top of the list of issues. Second in priority has been the problem of crime and violence in the neighborhood. COMMUNITY OUTREACH —Khalif Ali interviews Sarah Curry who grew up in Homewood and recently returned to the area. “Quite frankly we expected that crime and violence would be on the survey. We didn’t expect crime and violence to come in second to doing something with the abandoned houses,” said OBB assistant director Evans Moore. “That was a little bit of a shock.”


Taylor, Brentley urge opposition to school closings

In one of his last acts as a Pittsburgh Public School director, Randall Taylor warned an audience of East End parents, teachers and interested residents to be wary of another round of school closings. “In 1997, I came in during a storm of reconfiguration, and I’m leaving the same way,” he said. “And we still can’t seem to get it right.” STAY VIGILANT— Outgoing school director Randall Taylor tells parents not to think the latest recommendation to close schools is just “a tool” or a talking point. Taylor’s remarks came during a Nov. 23 town hall meeting he convened with fellow School Director Mark Brentley Sr. and a panel that included veteran education activist Wanda Henderson, Annette Werner, Parents United for Responsible Education Reform and NAACP education chair Marilyn Barnett to address a consultant’s recommendation earlier this month to close 15 schools including two high schools.


Braddock Hospital closing spurs community standoff

Since the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center announced the closing of Braddock Hospital last month, several meetings and rallies have been held with local government and community organizers banding together to oppose the closing. On Nov. 23 a private meeting was held to form a group charged with the task of preventing the closure. It will likely be made up of people such as Allegheny County Council members, congressmen, local pastors and representatives from Heritage Health Systems. DRESS UP—From left; Lisa White, Israel Wright, Destiny Naletta, Egypt Wight, and John Wight dress up as nurses, doctors, patients and Gen. Edward Braddock to protest the hospital closing. “Their sole purpose will be to come up with new ideas regarding UPMC Braddock closing to see if there is a way to prevent the closing,” said Braddock Borough manager Ella Jones. “We’re definitely trying to make it not final.”


Blount honored at Stargell banquet

by Asia M. Howell, For New Pittsburgh Courier Former Steeler great Mel Blount was the special honoree and J. T. Thomas the special guest of Champion Enterprises and Five Starr Corp. at the 34th annual Willie Stargell banquet to raise funds for programs to help keep youths off the streets and in recognition for community achievers. MEL BLOUNT, special honoree. On Nov. 14, elegantly dressed women and men gathered at the LeMont Restaurant in Mt. Washington to celebrate the Stargell banquet. Blount and Thomas were the Steelers starting cornerbacks during the ’70s helping them win four Super Bowl championships.


Black Diamond Ball honors African helpers

The Second Annual Black Diamond Ball of 2009 honored key individuals from various institutions in the greater Pittsburgh area who have been instrumental in making the integration an effortless evolution for African refugees, students and immigrants in Pittsburgh. ROBERT O. AGBEDE, president and CEO, Chester Engineers Inc., receipent of the Nelson Mandela Leadership and Diversity award from Afrika Yetu, during the Black Diamond Ball, held at the August Wilson Center, award winner. A Nelson Mandela Leadership and Diversity Award to the honorees.


Metro Beat

New legislation consideration AP—Pittsburgh City Council is considering a packet of legislation that would force business owners to pay a prevailing wage and make their buildings and vehicles environmentally friendly if they receive public subsidies to build them. Unions have lobbied city council to pass such rules. Council President Doug Shield introduced a bill requiring janitors, kitchen workers and grocery employees to be paid a prevailing wage of $11 an hour, instead of the $7.25, in any business built with public funds. The bill could affect a Target store and a grocery store planned for two of the city’s poorer neighborhoods. Councilman Bill Peduto says he’ll introduce a similar bill requiring businesses that get public money to use “green” technologies later this week.


Community Calendar

Thanksgiving dinner NOV. 26—The Gateway Clipper Fleet will host their Thanksgiving Day Dinner Cruise at 3 p.m. at 350 W. Station Square Dr., Station Square. Celebrate Thanksgiving with this 2-1/2-hour cruise along Pittsburgh’s three rivers while enjoying a turkey buffet with all the trimmings. There will also be a Holiday Captain’s Dinner Cruise Nov. 28 at 6:30 p.m. This cruise features a delicious dinner buffet and live entertainment performing seasonal songs all while sailing the beautiful three rivers. For more information, call 412-355-7980.