Daily Archive: August 31, 2011


New teacher union head reveals classroom priorities

In a special sit down with the New Pittsburgh Courier, incoming Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President Nina Esposito-Visgitis revealed her plans for the future of the organization amidst state budget cuts and turbulent political waters unfriendly to teacher’s unions. As Esposito-Visgitis outlined the obstacles she will soon face when she takes office Sept. 1, she was quick to point to Governor Tom Corbett’s cuts to education funding and their ramifications for teaching initiatives in the Pittsburgh Public School District. PITTSBURGH FEDERATION OF TEACHERS—Nina Esposito-Visgitis will take office as PFT’s new president Sept. 1. (Photo by J.L. Martello) “The most significant challenge would be the budget cuts. This year, the district did a good job of keeping the cuts away from the classroom,” Esposito-Visgitis said. “We obviously knew it was coming. It was more his choice of cuts that was unexpected.” The largest portion of cuts fell on funding for early childhood education. Since funding for early childhood education programs and centers comes from a variety of sources, Esposito-Visgitis said it is harder to protect.


Mother posts $3,000 reward for son’s killer

Not content to sit back while the investigation into her son’s shooting moves on, Caren Wright opted to get the community’s attention by posting flyers, offering $3,000 for information leading to an arrest of the killer of her son, throughout Pittsburgh’s East End neighborhoods. “The flyers have definitely gotten someone’s attention, because they are being torn down,” she said. “All around the bar where he was shot and along Frankstown. But I’m going to put more up. I guess I’ll just have to watch and see who’s doing it.” DETERMINATION—Caren Wright says she will continue posting flyers offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to her son’s killer no matter how many are taken down. (Photo by J.L. Martello) Wright’s son, Steven Daniels, 34, died after being shot multiple times outside the 30/30 Club on Frankstown Avenue July 15. Initially, police told the family they suspected robbery, which enraged Daniels’ brother, Leighton Tunnell, who said his brother was set up.


Family, friends lay Gray to rest

Hundreds came out to pay their respects and say their final goodbyes at the homegoing service of Elbert “El” Richard Gray, who was laid to rest, Aug. 24. The funeral was held at Allegheny Center Alliance Church on the North Side where family, clergy and public officials spoke very highly of Gray and how he will be missed by all who knew him. NEVER FORGOTTEN—Pallbearers carry out the casket containing the body of El Gray, long time anti-violence activist and community leader from Allegheny Center Alliance Church, in the North Side, where his funeral was held. (Photo by J.L. Martello) Gray was born and raised in Manchester, graduating from Allegheny High School. However, he lived all over the city as an adult. While at Allegheny, he was one of the stars of the basketball team, a leader amongst his peers and it was there that he met his wife of 42 years, Charlene B. Gray. They had four children, Elbert R. Gray Jr., Jayme L. Johnson, Anthony J. Gray and Malanzo Davis. He was proud of his children and took great pride in being a father.


UYA closes after 45 years

The Urban Youth Action summer program that ended two weeks ago will be the landmark organization’s last. The board of directors announced Aug. 30 that after 45 years, the program that helped thousands reach higher than ever before will close its doors for good Oct. 31. “For the past several months, we have been exploring a number of possibilities to sustain our organization,” said UYA Executive Director Ruthie D. King. “After looking at all of those possibilities, the Board of Directors has decided to recommend that Urban Youth Action be dissolved.” RUTHIE KING Founded in 1966 by the late Bernard H. Jones Sr., UYA was designed to help disadvantaged high school students from across Allegheny County better their lives through job readiness, educational support services, financial literacy and leadership development programs. Its mission was to prepare youth to be “work ready, life prepared and community minded.”


Low priced food mart expands in region

Classified as the nation’s low price grocery leader, ALDI stores are located throughout the region with the newest recently opening in the West Mifflin/Pleasant Hills area. People lined up in droves with carts in tow awaiting the 8:45 a.m. grand opening ceremony of the 239 Clairton Blvd. store. “People get excited when they can save money,” said store manager Nelson Kirksey. “And we are excited and ready to serve them.” READY TO SERVE—ALDI store manager Nelson Kirksey prepares for the grand opening of the West Mifflin/Pleasant Hills store. (Photo by Diane I. Daniels) Founded on the belief that people, wherever they live, should have the opportunity to buy everyday groceries of the highest quality at the lowest possible prices, ALDI Saxonburg division vice president, Brent Laubaugh calculates this as the 22nd ALDI store in the area. “Known for our premium ALDI select brands, ALDI is able to offer high-quality grocery items at unbeatable prices and we are glad to be here,” he said.


Community Calendar

Clinic opening SEPT. 1—The Allegheny County Health Department will host its Influenza Vaccination Clinic at 3441 Forbes Ave., Oakland. The clinic will offer flu vaccines, while supplies last, Mondays through Fridays. Appointments are not needed. For more information, visit http://www.www.achd.net. Political seminar SEPT. 1—The Pittsburgh African American Leadership Association & B-PEP will host Producing Political Power from 6-8 p.m. at Bethel AME Church, 2720 Webster Ave., Hill District. This is a three part series focusing on politics. The theme for the first session is Politics 101 “Say What!” The next sessions will be held Sept. 22 and Oct. 6. Guest presenters include Ed Gainey, Amanda Green, Jake Wheatley, Majestic Lane and Chase Patterson. For more information, call 412-342-5402 or visit http://www.aalapgh.org. Class fundraiser SEPT. 2—The Westinghouse Class of 1975 Reunion Committee will host a fundraiser at Simmie’s Restaurant, 8300 Frankstown Rd., Homewood. Through Sept. 4, Simmie’s will donate a portion of meal purchases made by individuals who mention they are there to support the class of ’75. For more information, call Kate Jeter at 412-371-8878 or email westinghousehs1975@yahoo.com. Class reunion SEPT. 2—Fifth Avenue High School will host its 3rd Annual Alumni All Class Reunion. There will be a meet and greet social from 7 p.m.-1 a.m. at Melange Bistro; a Mardi Gras Dinner Dance on Sept. 3 at 6 p.m.; and the Archer Picnic on Sept. 4 from 1-6 p.m. at the Riverview Park Activities Building, North Side. Registration is requested and the cost is $110. For more information, call 412-973-1809. Open house SEPT. 3—Allen Place Community Services Inc. will host an Open House and Dedication from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 227 Bonvue St., North Side. Activities will include health screenings, healthy living information, line dancing and more. There will also be a College Bound Youth Recognition Dinner from 6-11p.m. Tickets are $25. For more information, call 412-231-1531 or visit http://www.allenplacecommunity.org. Blood drive SEPT. 4—The Pittsburgh Chapter of the Ahmadiyaa Muslim Community will host a Blood Drive from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Al Nur Mosque, 747 South Ave., Wilkinsburg. The blood drive is to commemorate the 10th anniversary and honor the victims of 9/11. For more information, visit http://www.muslimsforlife.org. White Party SEPT. 8—Five Starr Corporation and The Soul Pitt will host its 3rd Annual White Party at 6 p.m. at the Fox Chapel Yacht Club, 1366 Old Freeport Rd., Fox Chapel. The event will feature The Fabulous Diamond Models. The cost is $20. For more information, call 412-628-4856 or email soulsis@thesoulpitt.com. Anti-bullying rally SEPT. 9—The Wilkinsburg School District will host “See Something, Say Something” Anti-Bullying Rally from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Wilkinsburg Penn Avenue Parklet, 718 Wallace Ave., Wilkinsburg. This is the kick-off event for the 2011-2012 school year. There will be a rally, games, activities and media personalities. In the event of inclement weather, the rally will be held at Wilkinsburg High School. The deadline for interested participants is Aug. 31. For more information, call Katie Hruska or Benjamin Rettig at 412-371-9500 ext. 2355. UpHill Walk/Run SEPT. 10—The Uptown and Hill District Communities will host the UpHill 5k Walk/Run and One Mile Fun Walk at 9 a.m. at the Upper Mellon Arena Parking Lot, Hill District. Proceeds from the event will go towards community development and green initiatives in the Hill District and Uptown. Following the walk, there will be a Community Appreciation Day at Kennard Field from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Registration is required. For more information, call 412-945-0180 or visit http://www.uphill5k.org. Peace walk SEPT. 10—The North Side Coalition for Fair Housing will host its Pre-Walk Peace Poetry Slam and “Sign Makin” from 6-8 p.m. at 1821 Brighton Rd., North Side. Prizes will be awarded to the individual who brings the best poetry relating to street and domestic violence. There will also be a community dialog and sign making event on Sept. 14 from 6-8 p.m. that will focus on the healing principles for individuals, families and communities and the Women’s Walk for Peace on Sept. 17 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Project, followed by a concert at West Park by artist 21:03. For more information, call 412-321-5527 or email Ronell Guy at ronell@northsidetenants.org. Adoption webinar SEPT. 13—Adoptions From the Heart will host an Online Webinar on Adopting African-American Infants at 7 p.m. The webinar will focus on the urgent need for African-American applicants and their Domestic Adoption Program, which is open to couples and singles living in the United States and places African-American infants with families directly from the hospital. Registration is required. For more information, call Ali Peters at 610-642-7200 or email alexandrap@afth.org.

Frederick Douglass


This Week In Black History

For the Week of September 3-9 September 3 1838—Frederick Douglas escapes from slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore using so-called “free papers” and disguising himself as a sailor. He would go on to become the most prominent anti-slavery activist and Black leader of his day. He is perhaps best remembered for his now famous 1857 quote: “If there is no struggle there is no progress…Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Free papers were documents normally required to be in the possession of all free Blacks. But one freedom tactic employed during slavery was for a slave to somehow borrow the papers of a free Black who fit his or her general description and use the papers to escape from slavery. FREDERICK DOUGLAS


Obama finds refuge among close friends on vacation

by Erica WernerAssociated Press Writer VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. (AP)—They golf with him, they vacation with him, their kids and his kids hang out. To them, he’s Barack, not Mr. President. They form the trusted circle of tight-lipped friends who’ve sustained Barack Obama through good times and bad since his days in Chicago, from Hawaii to Washington to Martha’s Vineyard and back again. BUDDIES—In this Aug. 23 photo, President Barack Obama walks with Eric Whitaker while golfing in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)



Let’s keep our history in perspective

In conjunction with millions of others I was a great supporter and admirer of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King was one of the greatest motivators in history and he deserves a monument, but he would not have advocated for one. King lived and died for all of us to share in the American Dream. It is extremely distressing to me that a multitude of corporations, who have never adhered to King’s wishes as it related to the eradication of the multitude of problems that still deny Blacks complete access to becoming first-class citizens, now spend untold sums of money advertising how great King was. Remember that those same people once vilified King by labeling him as a radical, troublemaker, agitator, communist dupe and much worse. Oh yes, upon his death they then claimed he was true red-blooded American. We as a people must stay on guard constantly so that those who have rewritten history will not be allowed to repeat that injustice. As great a person as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was we must not allow them to portray him as the only great Black leader of statue.


Republicans and Dems agree

For years, America’s political leaders—many of whom were conservative Republicans—thought that the best way to lower crime and keep the public safe was to pass harsh sentencing laws that locked away even the lowest level non-violent drug offenders for years. This “lock ’em up and throw away the key” attitude did little to stop crime but did firmly cement the U.S. as the industrialized nation that incarcerates the most people.