by Talibah Chikwendu WASHINGTON D.C.—“So long as God let’s me live,” said Dorothy Irene Height in one of several oral history archive videos presented by the National Visionary Leadership Project, “I will be on the firing line.” She honored that commitment to herself and the causes of African-Americans, women and children until her final days, with her every thought, word and deed. DR. DOROTHY HEIGHT Truly people the world over lost an revered and tireless advocate April 20, when Dr. Height, 98, died after an extended hospitalization. Dr. Height was born March 24, 1912 in Richmond, Va., to Fannie Burroughs Height (a nurse in a Black hospital) and James Edward Height (building contractor). Both widowers, each brought children to the marriage and had two children together, Dorothy and her sister, Anthanette. The family moved to Rankin, Pa. when she was four and stayed throughout her school years.
Daily Archive: April 21, 2010
The number of African-Americans entering the Pittsburgh police force continues to drop at an alarming rate. From February 2007 to July 2008 there were only three Black officers out of 107 total officers in four classes. Despite several requests, the classes of 2009 and 2010 were not sent. According to sources there was only one Black out of 40 in the last class. NOBLE OFFICERS—Reverend John Welch, who is not a member of NOBLE, with Jill Rustin, Hawthorne Conley, Maurita Bryant, Lavonnie Bickerstaff, Diane Richard, Richard Stewart Jr. and Christine Williams. The city’s public safety administrators have pledged to increase diversity through an increase in outreach efforts. However, some officers don’t see outreach as the problem. Instead they see a flawed system where hiring is subjective and at times even racist. The Black police officers we contacted did not wish to be identified for fear of losing their jobs so we referred to the two that were willing to talk on the record as Officer 1 and Officer 2.
It was routine, like any other day. Park the car in the garage, walk up the steps into the house, but then Dr. Frank Sessoms tripped. “My leg slipped under the cast-iron railing and was caught,” he said. “I tried to hold myself up by my arm, but I couldn’t get my leg out. I had to let go, and when I fell I knew I’d broken my hip.” DR. FRANK SESSOMS That was March 10. On April 19, Sessoms officially closed his office. He said he plans to reopen it, but his doctors have told him he cannot bear any weight for three months. Sessoms was initially evaluated at Allegheny General Hospital, then moved to West Penn Hospital for surgery to stabilize his hip. Though successful, Sessoms is still receiving in-patient treatment for the deep cut to his leg caused by the railing.
Guests at the 12th annual Mel Blount Youth Home All-Star Celebrity Roast knew they were in for a treat as the line of NFL players and coaches, past and present, entered the ballroom of the Hilton Hotel April 16. Being honored that night was Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward. Following in Steelers tradition, Ward is known for his efforts on and off the field as a four-time NFL Pro Bowl selection and a devoted philanthropist. STEELERS FOR LIFE—Surprise guest Jerome Bettis, left, with Hines Ward and Mel Blount, share many laughs at the roast. “I understand what it means to be a true Pittsburgh Steeler,” Ward said. “Being honored at the dinner means something because it reflects what I do outside of football, too. Even though we are not paid to be role models, we are role models.”
The Pittsburgh Public School District is now working to address a decline in female participation in athletics after a presentation earlier this month by a consultant who conducted an audit of the district’s compliance with Title IX, a law that requires equal opportunities for both males and females in education programs or activities that are federally funded, i.e. high school athletic programs. The audit found that there is a significant difference in the number of female athletes compared to male athletes. DASHAWNA CAREY, a senior at Perry High School, was the top female basketball player in the city this year. “We are always looking to improve,” said Michael Gavlik, director of Interscholastic Athletics for the Pittsburgh Public School District. “The school district requested the audit to see where it stood and what improvements needed to be made.” Reluctant to speak, Gavlik added that each school is different and their needs vary, but what remains important is making sure their facilities are maintained and that students are equipped with what they need.
Local Black women who have achieved much in their careers often cite Dorothy Height as one of their inspirations. All were saddened to hear of her death April 20 at 98. “I was very sorry to hear that on the way to work,” said University of Pittsburgh Teachers Institute head Helen Faison. HELEN FAISON “I hadn’t seen her for a few years, but when last I did she looked great. She was everywhere, always working to better the lives of Black women, from domestics to those serving in high positions. I couldn’t afford to join a sorority in college, but I was a member of the YWCA. I would speak to her occasionally, and when I did she always had something positive to say and contribute.”
At a North Side town hall meeting April 15, elected officials representing the area came together to update their constituents on their work and address the concerns of the community. “We’ve had the opportunity to meet with almost every organization in the North Side and through that we’ve been able to prioritize,” said District 6 Councilman Daniel Lavelle. “Some have housing concerns or concerns with violence in the community.” JAKE WHEATLEY The top priority and concern for residents was a lack of jobs, particularly family sustaining jobs. While government representatives illustrated how jobs were being brought into the region, they emphasized the importance of education and training in acquiring those jobs.
A group of investors recently bought the Crawford Grill so we asked Pittsburghers what they thought. Here’s what you said: “I didn’t even know that it was sold; it wasn’t advertised for everyone to know about it. But I do think it was a good move to sell it. It’s been in the community for such a long time. All the entertainment that you can imagine was there. Reopening it will be a benefit for the Hill.”C WashingtonMaintenanceHill District
Nomination deadline APRIL 23—The deadline for The New Pittsburgh Courier’s “50 Women of Excellence” Nominations is 5 p.m. This is your chance to select Pittsburgh’s powerbrokers in the arts, business, politics, non-profits, law, sports, philanthropy, health care, education and media. Nominations are welcome from individuals, businesses, professional/fraternal groups or neighborhood and community organizations. Nominations must be mailed or hand delivered to the New Pittsburgh Courier, Attn.: 50 Women of Excellence, 315 E. Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219; faxed to 412-481-1360; or e-mailed to email@example.com by the close of business and must include your name, telephone number and, in 200 words or less, explain how the metro Pittsburgh resident of your choice has made significant contributions in their field of expertise. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Rukmini CallimachiAssociated Press Writer THIES, Senegal (AP)—Even death cannot stop the violence against gays in this corner of the world any more. Madieye Diallo’s body had only been in the ground for a few hours when the mob descended on the weedy cemetery with shovels. They yanked out the corpse, spit on its torso, dragged it away and dumped it in front of the home of his elderly parents. The scene of May 2, 2009 was filmed on a cell phone and the video sold at the market. It passed from phone to phone, sowing panic among gay men who say they now feel like hunted animals. HOMOPHOBIA IN AFRICA—This Feb. 5, photo shows Ousmane Diallo holding a picture of Madieye Diallo at his shop in Thies, Senegal. A wave of intense homophobia is washing across Africa, where homosexuality is already illegal in at least 37 countries.