Beginning Aug. 14, a spike in what police are calling retaliatory gun violence left five dead and several others seriously injured across the city within a 24-hour period. The vast majority of the victims had criminal backgrounds, and though several were shot in front of multiple witnesses, Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper said his department is receiving little, if any, help from the community. NATE HARPER “If 30 people are standing around talking after an incident, even if its rumors—we need to be part of that discussion,” Harper said during an Aug. 19 press conference about the rash of shootings. He said the recent shootings were actually triggered 10 days earlier when Chris Michaux, 19, was killed outside a friend’s house on the North Side, less than an hour after his mother had been shot on her porch in the same Perry South neighborhood.
Daily Archive: August 24, 2011
He was always there, on the streets. In the rain, snow or scorching August heat, Elbert R. “El” Gray worked tirelessly to turn youths away from the gun violence of the streets. He never complained about his illness, or even mentioned it, because it had nothing to do with his mission—saving lives. “That’s El, he worked right up until he couldn’t anymore. He was a 24/7, 365 guy,” said One Vision One Life Executive Director Richard Garland. “His mission was saving these babies. He’s the standard. I wish I had a hundred like him.” COMMUNITY CHAMPION—El Gray speaks to the crowd at one of the many vigils hosted by One Vision One Life to end violence. (Photo by J.L. Martello) Gray lost his battle with cancer Aug. 18. He was 62. Gray had been arrested several times in his 20s and 30s for crimes such as burglary and drug possession. But having turned his life around, he sought to help others do the same. As such he became the face of One Vision One Life in the community, holding vigils for the victims of gang violence on the streets where they fell, and mediating between groups and individuals to head off retaliatory shootings. His life experience and dedication carried weight.
Already suffering from the loss of local talent and programming with the sale of WAMO, Pittsburgh radio took another hit last week when veteran American Urban Radio Network News Director Tene Croom was let go after 28 years. Jerry Lopes, AURN president of operations and affiliations, said it was strictly a budgetary decision and that he will take over operations of the news department. And as part of that, Croom and also morning executive Betty Lee were let go. TENE CROOM “We had to do some reorganization because fewer and fewer hours of our product is being heard. It has nothing to do with quality, it’s the market,” he said. “It’s painful to me personally because I hired both of those individuals. I appreciate the contributions they’ve made over the years. They are both very talented and I have no doubt they’ll be assets to someone.”
Throughout the month of August, the August Wilson Center for African American Culture has launched several promotions to draw more patrons to its doors. While, outsiders have taken these efforts as a sign that the AWC has again fallen under hardship, the center seems to have righted its financial ship. ANDRE KIMO GUESS “I’ve been doing this a long time and brand new institutions always have problems coming out of the gate,” said AWC President and CEO Andre Kimo Guess. “When you build a $40 million dollar building and when you have operations that are $3 million a year, you don’t have some unlimited fund to pull from. Then you couple that with the fact that everyone in the country is going through (a recession). We’re not in trouble. We had challenges when we walked in the door and we have way more opportunities than we have challenges.” Despite reports to the contrary, Guess says the center has balanced its budget for the most recent fiscal year ending June 30. This is a vast improvement over last year when fundraising shortfalls and other funding factors put the AWC under financial strain.
At the 2011 Women of Excellence awards luncheon, the New Pittsburgh Courier “raised the bar” for Black women everywhere when they recognized Patricia Prattis Jennings as their Legacy Award honoree. “I feel humbled because there’s so many people being honored who have done so much more than I have,” Jennings said. “You have all these women being role models to show we can succeed in professions where our numbers are very small.”
For the Week of August 27-September 2 August 27 1963—African-American activist and intellectual giant W.E.B. DuBois dies in Accra, Ghana, at the age of 95. Born in Great Barrington, Mass., DuBois was one of the most dominant figures in the African-American struggle against racial oppression for nearly 40 years. He helped found the Niagara Movement (precursor to the NAACP) in 1906 and helped organize the first Pan African Conference in London. W.E.B. DUBOIS An educational product of Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., he also taught at Atlanta University in Atlanta, Ga., and edited the NAACP’s Crisis magazine. DuBois was a major opponent of Booker T. Washington’s grand “compromise” with Whites and he argued frequently with Marcus Garvey’s Black separatist ideology. However, the “attacker of injustice and defender of freedom” would eventually become frustrated with the slow, legalistic tactics of the NAACP and the tenacity of American racism. He turned to socialism and late in life went into self-imposed exile in the West African nation of Ghana. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would write of him: “History cannot ignore W.E.B. Dubois because history has to reflect the truth and Dr. DuBois was a tireless explorer of the truth.”
I pause to acknowledge some of those individuals who live positive lives through their actions and commitments. •Malik Bankston, executive director and the driving force to build Kingsley Association at a cost of $9 million, and also supported the Black College Tour for 29 years. •Chris Moore, “Moore of Pittsburgh,” radio and television personality and creator of print, radio and television journalism school for youths for the last 29 years.
(NNPA)—Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia may be the first Black politician to address “flash mob” attacks that involve majority Black teens rummaging stores and attacking other races. “You have damaged your own race,” Nutter said to a group of Black teens, the Washington Times reported. “Take those God-darn hoodies down, especially in the summer. Pull your pants up and buy a belt ‘cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt.” FLASH MOB INCIDENT—In this March 20, 2010 file photo, young people run down South Street in Philadelphia during a flash mob incident that involved thousands and closed the street to traffic from Front Street to Broad. Thanks to websites like Twitter and Facebook, more and more so-called flash mobs are materializing across the globe, leaving police scrambling to keep tabs on the spontaneous assemblies. (AP Photo/The Philadelphia Inquirer, Laurence Kesterson) The series of flash mob attacks in Philadelphia involve a group of teens who spontaneously assault random people in the tourist locations. Nutter then continued: “If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you? They don’t hire you ‘cause you look like you’re crazy.”
The recent youth-led uprisings in London, that caused millions of dollars in damage and led to over a thousand people being arrested, are not just a wake-up call for Britain. The U.S. must take notice and put into place measures that would prevent such uprisings here at home. The London uprisings began when a group of young people, upset over the death of a 29-year old Black man, killed by police officers, gathered outside a police station in London. Frustrated with high unemployment rates, a failing education system and police misconduct that seemingly goes unchecked, the protester’s tempers flared, their emotions took over and the protests quickly turned violent. The violence spreads, growing to massive proportions—citizens in the U.K., and around the world, were shocked.
(NNPA)—If one were to look up “tenacity” in a dictionary, one might well simply search for logo of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, or a photograph of the MLK Memorial Foundation’s Executive Director Harry Johnson Sr. In 1984, the men of Alpha Phi Alpha proposed a national memorial to Dr. King, and they continued to push until President Bill Clinton signed legislation in 1996 proposing the establishment of the memorial. The Alphas used their congressional juice to get an area and foundation established, and to take leadership in raising money for the memorial. One of their own, former Alpha President Harry Johnson Sr., has been indefatigable in his efforts to take the King Memorial from concept to reality. I am sure that there were times when Johnson wondered whether the dream of a King monument would be realized. This weekend, however, on the 48th anniversary of the “I Have A Dream” Speech, Johnson’s dream, and the dream of millions, has come to fruition. The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monument is the only recognition of an African-American on the National Mall. It is the only tribute on the Mall to someone who has not been a President of the United States.