by A.M. Muhammad
(NNPA)—Recently, several articles have appeared in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle criticizing the decision by radio host Bev Smith and American Urban Radio Networks for inviting Min. Louis Farrakhan to a March 11 Town Hall Meeting in Pittsburgh, to discuss issues affecting the Black community.
In writings appearing in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle during the past two weeks, its Executive Editor Lee Chottiner, Jeffrey Finkelstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and David Ainsman, chairman of the Community and Public Affairs Council of the Federation, were all critical of Smith and Pittsburgh’s Black leadership for inviting leaders to discuss Black issues that had not been pre-approved by the Jewish community.
If they thought their threats would undermine support for the event, their efforts have backfired. It is being reported that there are no more tickets available to the event and, according to a spokesperson for the August Wilson Center, the nearly 500-seat auditorium will be filled with an overflow room set up in order to accommodate even more people interested in solutions to the problems plaguing Pittsburgh’s Black community.
On March 4, Bev Smith, who is spearheading the town hall meeting themed “The Disappearing Black Community” wrote an open letter responding to Jewish pressure for inviting Min. Farrakhan to the March 11 gathering. Her guests are Min. Farrakhan, Congressman James Clyburn and Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation.
Pressure from various Jewish and White Christian organizations has caused Campbell to decline to appear at the meeting. A project she has been working on to train African-American women and young girls across the country on how to navigate their way up America’s economic ladder, could now be in jeopardy if she sets on stage with Min. Farrakhan.
“To think that the critical work that she is doing could be stopped by some unforgiving, uninvolved Jewish and White Christian agitators focused on their own agenda, breaks my heart,” Smith said.
Read the Jewish response to Min. Farrakhan participation in the Town Hall meeting on Forum page A7 and an open letter from Smith to them on Opinion page A6.