Daily Archive: April 22, 2011


No vigil for vigils

Last summer, Allegheny County’s One Vision One Life anti-violence program was restructured following a RAND Corp. evaluation to become a key component of the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime. As a result PIRC and the community have received the benefits of One Vision’s street-level intelligence, outreach and intervention work. Comprised of former gang members, the program’s outreach workers have the unique ability to intervene in turf battles, disputes and gang interactions, and diffuse them before they result in homicides and shootings. VALERIE DIXON When homicides did occur, the outreach continued in the form of vigils for the slain victims the program organized. Designed to bring families and communities together to help heal wounds and prevent future killings, the vigils served to give families voices and put faces on the victims—and sometimes their killers—who might otherwise be just more statistics.


McKeesport candidate forum success

Five of the mayoral candidates, along with the city council hopefuls and the school board contenders, attended the forum hosted by the McKeesport Chapter of the NAACP April 16. “There should be as much interest in local races as there was the year before in the election of President Barack Obama,” said Rev. Yolanda Wright of St. Paul AME Church, who served as moderator. ARIA PAYNE STINSON “These are the people who will affect us here, if we do not come out and support them, then who will,” said Ocie Paige, the McKeesport NAACP president and a former school director. Although, there was not a huge turnout, partly due to the torrential down pour of rain, the forum was indeed a success, whereas most of the candidates for all races were present.


Vann Memorial Tower to get voice

For more than 60 years, students at Virginia Union University and residents in the surrounding city of Richmond have been unable to hear the sounds of bells ringing from the famed Robert L. Vann Memorial Tower. But soon, thanks to the work of the Bells for Peace campaign, a non-profit charity working to restore the tower, and the Belgium Friendship building it belongs to, bells will ring out over the college campus for the first time since the tower was constructed. ROBERT L VANN MEMORIAL TOWER—The 166 foot bell tower has been silent since it was first constructed on Virginia Union University’s campus more than 60 years ago. “Since 2004 we have been working to build support for restoration of the Belgium Friendship Building which has decayed quite a bit,” said Dianne Watkins, president of Bells for Peace Inc. “Our mission is to make sure Virginia Union’s tower has a voice. We have an artistic treasure on the campus that needs to be restored.”


FBI releases report on Notorious B.I.G. murder case Was it an inside job; Was more than one person involved?

(NNPA)—The FBI has released its files on the murder of Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace. The heavily redacted files don’t say who shot and killed the rap performer as he was leaving a post-Soul Train Music Awards party in Los Angeles 14 years ago. According to CNN, the Los Angeles Police Department investigation has been reopened because of new information. NOTORIOUS B.I.G.


Poll: Students optimistic despite money doubts

WASHINGTON (AP)—For young people who came of age in the recession, the American dream of life getting better for each new generation feels like a myth. A majority expect to have a harder time buying a house and saving for retirement than their parents did. More than 4 in 10 predict it will be tougher to raise a family and afford the lifestyle they want, according to an Associated Press-Viacom poll of Americans ages 18 to 24. Only about a fourth expect things to be easier for them than the previous generation—a cherished goal of many hardworking parents. High unemployment has left lots of young lives in limbo.


A Black American Earth Day

Forty-one years ago Earth Day was established by the global community and now literally hundreds of millions of people throughout the world will celebrate Earth Day April 22. For Black Americans and millions of people of color, Earth Day 2011 should be both a day of celebration and rededication to the struggle to free our communities from the devastating toxicity of environmental injustice. Going “green” should not be reduced to a popular fad or to something that just sounds progressive or cool. Official theme: “Earth Day 2011: A Billion Acts of Green” encourages people everywhere to take the time to do an act of environmental service and advocacy that will contribute to improving the quality of life for all living things on earth. That is a good achievable goal worthy of our support and involvement. With all the terrible climatic changes and related severe weather consequences of global warming and environmental damage to the world’s ego system, all people should take at least one day a year to assess how to make the world a better and a more healthier place to live.


Trump’s baseless challenge to Obama’s U.S. citizenship

Donald Trump, who is again flirting with the possibility of running for president on the Republican ticket, has garnered widespread publicity by repeating thoroughly discredited claims that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and therefore is ineligible to be president of the United States. He has hired private investigators to look into whether Obama was born in Hawaii. Trump should save his money. There is no doubt that Obama was born in the United States. The only people who refuse to accept this truth are ignorant, brain dead or decline to let facts get in way of their right-wing politics. In this case, Donald Trump might fit all three categories. In a letter to the New York Times, Trump wrote, “There is a very large segment of our society who believe [sic] that Barack Obama, indeed, was not born in the United States.” For the record, Barack Hussein Obama was born at 7:24 p.m. on Aug. 4, 1961 in Honolulu. His parents were Stanley Ann Dunham and Barack Hussein Obama Sr.


Revolving prison doors

If you, like me, believe that prisons should be able to punish offenders while still preparing them for a productive, crime free life once they are released, then you must also believe that prisons are failing. And, they’re not just failing: they are costing the larger society billions of dollars that could be put to much better use. Annual prison spending has risen from $10 billion to $52 billion during the last 30 years. Recent data from the Pew Center on the States shows that the additional money is clearly not going to prisoner rehabilitation efforts. More than 40 percent of inmates eventually return to prison, most of them within three years. The recidivism rate hasn’t changed much in a decade and is a strong sign that prisons aren’t doing the best job they can to prepare offenders for life outside of prison.



Obama shows that he’s no Clinton

In the 1990’s Bill Clinton was not looking good in his quest to be re-elected as president of the United States. His poll numbers were in the low 40’s in the Spring of 1995 and the Republicans were crowing about a generational takeover of the House and Senate after the bloodbath of 1994. However, within a year after two major staredowns with his nemesis Newt Gingrich Clinton had solidified himself as a leader heading into the 1996 presidential election. The nation respected him, he averted a slowdown of the red hot economy of the 1990’s and he steamrolled Bob Dole in 1996. After Obama’s last minute avoidance of a shutdown last weekend one has to wonder if really is as much a student of history as he claims.


‘Superior Donuts’ offers adult laughs, colorful characters at O’Reilly

Brandon Gill welcomed the chance to play the role of Franco in the Pittsburgh Public Theater’s version of Tracy Lett’s award-winning play, “Superior Donuts.” The show will run through May 15 at the O’Reilly Theater Downtown. “I saw it on Broadway and I thought it was a role I wanted to do,” said Gill who is originally from Long Island, NY. “Tracy gives the gift of language to African-Americans. We’re not asked to play a stereotype by any means. My character, Franco wrote a book and he has aspirations of being a great writer. To have a role where we are not asked to play the drug dealer or a character like that is something.” BRANDON GILL