When George “Toby” Gaines watched fire consume the building that housed his family business for more than 80 years he said he felt two things; sadness, at the loss of something that held historical significance for African-Americans in Pittsburgh’s Larimer neighborhood, and helplessness against the power of the inferno. “That feeling of being handicapped, of not being able to do anything was emotionally devastating,” he said. “But in processing it, I realize I have to forgive those who may have been involved in setting the fire. That was difficult, but as Christians we’re called to do that.” ONLY MEMORIES REMAIN—A pile of burnt wood and brick are all that remain where Gaines Funeral Home stood on Auburn Street in Larimer since 1934. It burned down June 6. Gaines was referring to two teens whom witnesses said they saw on the roof about 45 minutes before the fire erupted in the late afternoon of June 6. The Allegheny County Fire Marshal would neither confirm nor deny if arson was the cause, but the building had been shuttered and had no utilities since Gaines move the business to Penn Hills in 2008.
Daily Archive: June 15, 2011
With Pittsburgh Public School students now out for the summer, the possibility of idleness leading to risky or criminal behavior again rears its head. Traditionally, both the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County governments have rolled out youth job programs to address the problem. But this year the problem may be greater as the city’s program has slots for only half the number it served last year, and the county after providing funding for more than 1,000 positions last year, is not funding any summer youth jobs at all. LUKE RAVENSTAHL For the previous two years, Allegheny County had used federal Stimulus money to fund its program, but as the Department of Human Services website noted those funds are gone. That means the number of youth employed in July and August will drop from more than 1,500 throughout the county to about 250 just in Pittsburgh. That’s roughly an 83-percent reduction.
At the end of this month, Pittsburgh Public School District Assistant Superintendant Derrick Lopez will resign from his position to take on a new appointment as president and CEO of Homewood Children’s Village. HCV is a Homewood-based initiative that will provide wrap-around services for students and families connected with the Academy at Westinghouse, Pittsburgh Faison K-5 and Pittsburgh Lincoln K-5. DERRICK LOPEZ “It really is a deepening of the work I have done in Homewood. It’s really about wrapping our arms around our families so our children can come to school ready to learn. I think schools do education well, but in order for our children to succeed, schools need to help families become whole,” Lopez said. “I hope (HCV) can be a bridge between families and schools. The mission of (HCV) is to reweave the fabric of the Homewood community. It means we have to embrace all the challenges our children face and lower those barriers so that children come to school ready to learn.”
There has been much debate between African-Americans about the Black community’s two worlds. In one, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders see economic security as the key to success. In the other, community organizers and lifelong civil rights activists continue to fight for social justice as the key to African-American freedom. The 3rd Annual African American Leadership Summit on June 10 tackled these issues with its theme “Influential Leadership: Moving Forward, Looking Back.” It also explored what leadership should look like today in a post civil rights era, technological age. KEY TO SUCCESS—Chester Watson sparks a discussion on whether or not economic wealth is the key to Black success. (Photo by J.L. Martello) “The importance of this platform is to talk about solutions. The one thing I’m confident about is we have everything we need. We can solve our own problems,” said Bernadette Turner, co-founder of the African American Leadership Association. “Until we no longer have to preface appointments with ‘the first African-American,’ we need our own businesses. We need our own organizations.”
Following suit with the Pittsburgh City Council election, two non-endorsed candidates for the Pittsburgh Public School District Board of Directors came out victorious in the primary election on May 17. In the weeks following the election, District 8 Representative Mark Brentley has celebrated yet another victory in his long tenure on the school board. However, Regina Holley, the democratic winner of the election is preparing for the possibility of facing incumbent District 2 Representative Dara Ware Allen who received the republican nomination. MARK BRENTLEY
Seminar JUNE 16—The Alzheimer Disease Research Center, the Alzheimer Outreach Center and The University of Pittsburgh will host the Walter Allen Memorial Seminar Series at 2 p.m. at the Hill House Kaufmann Center, Conference Room A, 1835 Centre Ave., Hill District. The theme is “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Is It Better the Second Time Around?” Willa Doswell, RN, Ph.D., will be the guest speaker. Refreshments will be served. For more information, call Marita Garrett at 412-692-2722.
Week of June 18 to June 24 June 18 1941—Labor and civil rights leader A. Phillip Randolph initially rejects a plea by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to call off the first-ever Black-organized March on Washington designed to protest unfair employment practices by the military and the defense industry. The march was planned by Randolph, Bayard Rustin and A.J. Muste—all relatively unsung heroes of the early civil rights movement. The march was not cancelled until Roosevelt signed the Fair Employment Act. Ironically, over 20 years later, Randolph would be one of the principal figures helping Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. organize his historic 1963 March on Washington.
by Jasmyne A. Cannick WASHINGTON D.C. (NNPA)—Toyota Motor Sales USA executives have angered NNPA Chairman Danny Bakewell Sr. and America’s preeminent Black newspaper publishers after the troubled carmaker backed out of a multi-million dollar advertising campaign targeting Black consumers. In a letter to Bakewell and the NNPA, Toyota executives said that Black consumers of Toyota products receive their advertising message from a number of media channels which include mainstream media (White media), thus implying that advertising in Black newspapers was unnecessary. Akio Toyoda Toyota president and CEO This decision comes after months of meetings between Toyota executives and the NNPA, a network of 200 Black publishers which represents over 19.8 million weekly readers, approximately half of America’s Black population.
My columns over the years have generally been written to be thought provoking and others to provoke controversy. Anytime I have a column that was controversial I generally write two parts, one I publish and the other part is held if a response should be forthcoming. Last week I received a phone call from a person that I just know, and he stated that I had incensed certain people with one of my more recent columns, and they were looking into my background. These same people who were subjects of part one of a controversial column said, “They were checking into my background to teach me a lesson.” My instant response was tell them “to dig two holes, because I am reminded that people who dig holes for other folks run the risk of falling into one themselves.”
Effective: “Producing a deep and vivid impression; striking; prepared and available for service.” Random House Dictionary Last week, June 8-11, more than 450 attendees, including 132 HBCU students, came together in Orlando, Fla. for the National Urban League’s 42nd annual Black Executive Exchange Program Leadership Conference. BEEP, the National Urban League’s longest running direct service program, is a partnership involving the business community, government, and non-profit institutions which places African-American executives in classrooms at more than 80 HBCUs as visiting professors and role models. The idea behind the program is that by exposing Black college students to African-American executive role models and their real-world experiences, we can better prepare the next generation for effective corporate leadership. The program also provides a unique opportunity for professionals and corporations to give back to their communities while helping African-American college students achieve their goals.