Monthly Archive: January 2012


Don’t wait six weeks! Go online today

by Patricia ThibaultFor New Pittsburgh Courier Soon, the world’s most famous groundhog will be getting a lot of attention. On Groundhog Day, the world’s furriest weather reporter, Punxsutawney Phil, will pop out of his home to forecast one of two possibilities: an early spring or six more weeks of winter.



:10—You mark my words, and my words are markable (is markable a word?) Anyway … James Dixon will right the ship and your Pitt Panther Basketball Team will finish strong in the Big East Tournament. :09—New England beats the Ravens. “Quote the Ravens never more.” I picked the 49ers to outcoach the Giants and win a close one. Right result, wrong team! As much as I hate to say it, New England wins another Super Bowl. Brady is on a mission. (However keep in mind I picked the Steelers to beat “Tee-Bow” and Denver … ok so I missed one, shut up!) BILL NEAL


‘Rise High’ not just about basketball

The first thing you need to know is that the man behind this operation is one of western Pennsylvania’s best kept secrets. Coach Marvin Wright, now in his 10th year as founder and director of the Rise High AAU Youth Basketball Organization, has made it his life’s work to use basketball as a means to a successful end for young boys to become great young men. RISE HIGH PLAYERS AND COACHES (Courier Photos/J.L. Martello) Secondly, and this should come as no surprise, he has built this nationally recognized operation with the “Best of the Best.” They include former Penn Hills star Chris Horne; City League legend David “Quick Draw” Strothers (why did they call him Quick Draw? Just check with all the great City league players he scored double figures on and they’ll tell you that they never saw the ball leave his hands); Assistant Director Dennis Boyce; along with some of the area’s greatest basketball minds in Chey Tyler, Director of Basketball Operations; Vince Natoli, Assistant Director; and Coach Toni Allen, former Allderdice star and wife of former Pitt great George Allen; plus former star players, Coach Cory Fulton, Quinzez Taylor and Reggie Tolliver.


Absolute Dancing

“If you can count, you can dance,” says Torran King, in between dances at the Black and Gold dance held at the Absolute Ballroom in Homewood. King was one of dozens who came out on a freezing Jan. 14 to dance, mix and mingle Detroit, Pittsburgh and Cleveland style. The atmosphere inside of the ballroom was warm and inviting. THE DANCING DJ—Roland Ford When people are dancing inside at the Absolute Ballroom the view from the outside via the large plate glass windows begs you to come inside and give dancing a whirl. This dance night was organized by popular dancing deejay, Roland Ford. The requirement for the Black and Gold dance was a $10 entry fee and a covered dish big enough to feed a few others.


First Black Aliquippa mayor reflects on future of city

On Jan. 3, Dwan Walker, Aliquippa’s first African-American mayor, took office after a hard fought two-year campaign. His journey began in 2009, when 14-year-old TiQuai Wallace, was struck and killed by a 17-year-old drunk driver, an incident that forever-changed Walker’s outlook on the community where he was born and raised. “There was a death of a young man in 2009. Our families were close. Everybody took it hard,” Walker said. “It was one of those things that changed the landscape of Aliquippa, it changed the way people looked at things.” ALIQUIPPA MAYOR—Dwan Walker accepts a 2011 50 Men of Excellence award from the New Pittsburgh Courier. (File Photo by J.L. Martello) Tragedy struck Aliquippa again that same year when Walker’s sister, Deidre Walker, was killed in a murder suicide. It was ultimately the death of Walker’s sister, his strongest supporter, that led him to run, alongside his twin brother Donald Walker, on the One Aliquippa ticket for city government.


‘21 & Able’ United Way seeks help for disabled youth

Turning 21 is supposed to be a joyous milestone in a young adult’s life, one that is looked at as full of possibilities. But to an individual with a disability and their families, it can be looked at as a time of anxiety and hopelessness. For many individuals turning 21 means they will no longer receive the supportive services needed to live a full life of quality and independence. Instead it is the age when many “graduate to the couch.” BOB NELKIN But the United Way of Allegheny County and other civic leaders and businesses are working to bridge the transition from supportive services and education to adulthood through their new 21 and Able initiative. Bob Nelkin, president of the United Way of Allegheny County, said in many cases at one’s 21st birthday individuals with disabilities and their families feel like they are falling off a cliff. Because of their age, they no longer have support services needed.


Incarceration major topic of Black and White Reunion

While Blacks make up only nine percent of the Pennsylvania population, they make up 57 percent of the Pennsylvania prison population. Across the United States, the number of people in prison has risen to 2.3 million, the highest incarceration rate of any industrialized nation. TIM STEVENS Despite the fact Black males make up less than 10 percent of the general population, they make up 35 percent of the total number of those incarcerated. According to Martha Conley, an attorney who has studied mass incarceration, these statistics are the result of the War on Drugs, a campaign aimed at reducing drug trafficking that began under President Richard Nixon in 1971, but actually goes back to the Teddy Roosevelt presidency in the early 1900s.


Northsiders protest school mergers

Two months after the Pittsburgh Public School District Board of Directors approved the district’s realignment plan for the 2012-2013 school year, students, parents and concerned citizens gathered outside the Board of Education building to protest the closing of seven schools and merging of students from schools around the district. NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND—Abu Malik, executive director of the organization Creating Positive Self Image, joins others in protesting the merging of several schools. (Photo by J.L. Martello) “The transition strategy must be developed and implemented well before the beginning of the 2012/2013 School year to allow parents, faculty and students the opportunity to become accustomed to the newly configured programs, as well as, build a cohesion between both populations. This initiative will also ensure, as much as possible, the welcoming and receptivity from the receiving population to the feeder population,” said Shanon Williams, an Oliver High School graduate who served as the group’s leader. “Due to the history of mergers throughout the districts of PPS, we are assembled to prevent any unnecessary reconfigurations of our schools past this point.”



William ‘Bill’ Robinson; dean of Black politicians

As I write this column it brings to mind that “an apple does not fall far from the tree.” Bill Robinson is the son of two of the finest people that I ever had the privilege of knowing. Devoted,God-fearing parents that mirrored untold numbers of other parents, wanting the best for their children. They instilled in Bill the importance of family and a sense of responsibility for self and others. He was an excellent student in high school and furthered his education by obtaining a BA in political science from Ohio State and upon graduating, returned to Pittsburgh and enrolled in Duquesne University and graduated with a Masters in Political Science.


Community Calendar

Haiti healthcare JAN. 26—Global Links will host a “Rebuilding the Healthcare System in Haiti” discussion at 6 p.m. at 4809 Penn Ave., Garfield. Program Officer Marisol Wandiga will facilitate the discussion on Haiti’s healthcare system and how Global Links is working to provide all Haitians with access to healthcare. Registration is requested at 412-361-3424 ext. 204 or email Jennifer Novelli at