Daily Archive: January 20, 2010


Haitians flee capital in search of food, safety

by A. de Montesquiou PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP)—Thousands of Haiti’s quake victims are struggling to board buses to flee hunger and violence in the shattered capital, hoping that food will be easier to find in the countryside. But both gasoline and food are scarce in Port-au-Prince, and bus drivers have hiked fares, forcing some to pay more than three days’ wages for a seat. EXODUS—People cram into a truck leaving the capital of Port-au-Prince, Jan. 18. On the streets, people are still dying, pregnant women are giving birth and the injured are showing up in wheelbarrows and on people’s backs at hurriedly erected field hospitals. “Thousands and thousands are leaving, I’ve never seen such a rush, even at Christmas,” said driver Garette Saint-Julien, who was trying to manage the crowd Monday in front of his bus at the Portail Leogane, a suburb where buses gather for trips to Haiti’s southern peninsula. Upwards of one million people may flee the Port-au-Prince area for the countryside, straining Haiti’s already precarious farms, said Laurent Thomas, director of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization’s emergency operations.


Pittsburgh bands together for Haiti

In the days after an earthquake shook through Haiti on Jan. 12, Pittsburghers sprang into action to help their neighbors, 90 minutes off the coast of Florida. Several of these relief groups had already been working over the years to help the impoverished of Haiti while others created organizations almost overnight. LENDING A HAND—From left: R.J. Hines of Brother’s Brother Foundation helps Rochelle Oaks sign up to volunteer with Judy Rosemaa, another volunteer. “It was about 3 a.m. when I woke up with a really heavy heart,” said Leon Pamphile, executive director of the Functional Literacy Ministry of Haiti. “I became so overwhelmed with the incredible loss of lives and the graphic physical and emotional suffering of the people of Haiti.” As a Port-au-Prince native, Pamphile has been hit especially hard by this catastrophe. His organization has been working to help the people of Haiti since 1983 by building literacy centers and taking yearly trips to address the country’s medical needs.


Garfield Commons celebrates opening

When Columbus-based developer Keith B. Key grew up on Columbo Street in Garfield, one of his friends was Pride Rivers. He grew up to become a Maryland State Trooper. He died last year. But his name lives on in Garfield not only through his family, but because it is emblazoned above the entrance to the community center at the newly opened Garfield Commons mixed housing development. Key made sure of that—he’s the developer. NEW BEGINNING— Trisha Germany, city manager for KBK Development, stands at the entrance of the Pride Community Center at the newly opened Garfield Commons housing community. “He was a great Christian man and did a lot of work in his community and here,” said Key. “He got to see some of it and was excited about helping out. We wanted to showcase what mattered to him, and this center exhibits that spirit. It allows us to provide a cadre of services; art, dance and computer training. It will be a place of pride, and help return pride to community.”


Music legend Teddy Pendergrass dies at 59

NEW YORK (AP)—R&B legend Teddy Pendergrass, who had been one of the most electric and successful figures in music until a car crash 28 years ago left him in a wheelchair, has died of colon cancer. He was 59. Pendergrass died Jan. 13 in suburban Philadelphia, where he had been hospitalized for months. The singer’s son, Teddy Pendergrass II, said his father underwent colon cancer surgery eight months ago and had “a difficult recovery.” TEDDY PENDERGRASS “To all his fans who loved his music, thank you,” his son said. “He will live on through his music.” Pendergrass left a remarkable imprint on the music world as he ushered in a new era in R&B with his fiery, sensual and forceful brand of soul, and his ladies’ man image, burnished by his strikingly handsome looks.


Black employment only 3 percent of arena development

After the dismal participation by minorities on the Heinz Field, PNC Park and Convention Center projects 10 years ago, it’s a familiar song by now. African-Americans make up about 3 percent of those employed on the Consol Energy Arena development project. Of that number, 1 percent live in the Hill District. Women also make up about 1 percent. JOBS VS. CONTRACTS— Clarence Curry of the SEA, left, and Ken Nesbit from the First Source Referral Center, note that employing local residents on arena construction has been difficult despite 23 percent participation by MBEs. These numbers came out during a Jan. 14 meeting to inform Hill District residents on the arena project. This low employment figure comes despite contractor inclusion being at or near targeted goals.


Speak Out: What can be done to combat Black unemployment?

One of the top problems in the Black community is unemployment, males in particular. So we asked Pittsburghers how to combat it. Here’s what you said: “If everyone would create jobs within the Black community to help each other, that would combat unemployment. It would build up a better economy when we support each other. When we buy from each other we create jobs. This way we can get the community back the way it should be.” Bagumba Lowery, Turhan Shabazz, Alice Conyers Bagumba Lowery Homewood Community activist


In Haiti, tragedy, a way of life, is redefined

by Jonathan M. Katz EDITOR’S NOTE—Jonathan M. Katz is The Associated Press’ correspondent in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He filed this first-person account of the moments after last Tuesday’s earthquake, which has redefined tragedy for a nation that knows it all too well. RESCUING THE SURVIVORS—Men remove the battered body of a young woman from the rubble, Jan. 13, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. PETIONVILLE, Haiti (AP)—I was sitting on my bed surfing the Internet when I noticed silence, followed by a weird groaning sound. I figured it was a passing water truck. But funny, I thought— sounds more like an earthquake. The house started shaking. Then it really started shaking. I walked out of my room and kneeled slowly to the undulating floor, laptop in hand, as windows, two years’ worth of Haitian art and a picture of my grandfather smashed around me.


Immigration reformers see parallels in MLK’s work

by Deepti HajelaAssociated Press Writer NEW YORK (AP)—After almost nine years, Nigerian immigrant Emakoji Ayikoye is now an American. The final step came at a naturalization ceremony, where he and about 100 others recited the citizenship oath. But last Thursday’s ceremony was weighted with more symbolism than usual for the 32-year-old college math teacher. It was one of several being held nationwide in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Another, on Friday in Atlanta, featured a speech from his daughter, Bernice King. NEW AMERICANS—From left: Nigerian Emakoji Ayikoye, Moroccan Khalid El Ghnimi, Haitians Michelson Marcelin, Val Azer, and South Korean Jeong Yeo Lee take the oath of citizenship in New York, Jan. 14. They were among a 102 new citizens from 43 countries.


On inaugural anniversary: Has Obama kept his promises to Blacks?

WASHINGTON (NNPA)—On Nov. 3, 2008, an important telephone conference was held in Black America. That was the day that then-candidate Barack Obama, on the eve of his historic election to the presidency, promised African-American leaders and representatives across the nation that if elected, he would never forget that Black people are specifically hurting from social ills. “Everyone under the sound of my voice understands the struggles we face. Everyone understands the fierce urgency of now. You all know what’s at stake in this election,” Obama said on the teleconference, covered by the NNPA News Service. COMPLETES FIRST YEAR—President Barack Obama took the oath of office a year ago after crediting Black people for his election. But some question whether he has kept his promises to African-American voters so far.


Construction begins on King National Memorial at the Mall

by Karen BrundidgeFor New Pittsburgh Courier (NNPA)—For 13 years, Ed Jackson has been steeped in a struggle to make a dream come true. He is chief architect for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the northeast side of the Tidal Basin lining up with the Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson memorials. President Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. President Lincoln saved the Union and signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Scholars credit King with providing the road map for all Americans to realize the ideals of equality and justice. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. MEMORIAL