Daily Archive: February 15, 2012


The ‘Voice’ mourned… Brilliant, troubled superstar dies

LOS ANGELES (AP)—A year ago, Clive Davis’ glittery pre-Grammy showcase was winding down after a number of electric performances when the grandest name of all, Whitney Houston, walked on stage to close the evening with what promised to be a show-stopping tribute to her famous cousin, Dionne Warwick. Instead, what transpired was yet another troubling display of erratic behavior from the superstar, and a foreshadowing perhaps of what was to come. WHITNEY HOUSTON DEATH SHOCKS THE WORLD Though she looked spectacular, her once-stunning voice sounded frayed and hoarse. She didn’t seem to follow the rehearsed plan and looked out of sorts at times. Even when Davis, her longtime mentor and producer, announced that the show was over, Houston appeared to try to get back on the microphone, only to be stopped by Davis with the joke: “I found you when you were 19; I’m still your boss!”



Governor seeks early education reductions

In the 2010-2011 school year, an estimated 460 children were enrolled in early childhood education programs in the Pittsburgh Public School District thanks to the state funded accountability block grant. This year, Gov. Tom Corbett’s 2012 budget proposal includes the elimination of this grant. “The accountability block grant is used for our preschool programs. It’s a significant piece, but it’s one of four funds we use to fund early childhood education in PPS,” said Carol Barone-Martin, executive director of PPS’s Early Childhood Program. “It will cause some reductions, although we don’t know how much.” GOV. CORBET State funded accountability block grants, the Pre-K Counts Program, Head Start, and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program pay for Pittsburgh’s Early Childhood Program.


Marcellus training targets Blacks

The North Side, like many Pittsburgh neighborhoods, suffers from an abundance of young unemployed Black men. But several organizations, led by Mentors Consulting and Training, have teamed up to change that by offering some of them training to work on shale gas rigs. Mentors founder and President Kris Kirk said she put the program together to address the “shameful” unemployment rate for Pittsburgh’s African-American population. BUILDING FUTURES—The first class of students in the Mentors Certified Energy Specialist Program begin their 80 hours of instruction at the RCI building on the North Side Feb. 13. (Photos by J.L. Martello) “Normally we go into a company and create a training curriculum, so this is a pilot program for us,” she said. “We’re trying to meet the needs of the target population, looking to put 40 men, in groups of 10, through this program. The first class started Feb. 13.”



Education experts say district not listening

The Community Empowerment Association town hall meeting “Whose Educating Our Black Children: The Culture of Silence,” convened education experts from around the Pittsburgh area. While the experts represented different schools of thought and different sectors of the education realm, all agreed on one thing. “There’s a lot of models we know that are working,” said Rashad Byrdsong, CEA founder. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.” RASHAD BYRDSONG The panelists at the discussion at Obama Academy on Feb. 11 said educators and researchers have data to show which programs and models are helping to reduce the achievement gap between Black and White students, and which ones aren’t. However they said administrators and board members in the Pittsburgh Public School District are not listening.


Tuskegee Airmen from Homewood spotlighted

On Feb. 11, Bethany Baptist Church asked the question “Can any good thing come out of Homewood?” And their answer was a resounding yes. The church’s Christian Education Committee hosted a tribute to the famous Tuskegee Airmen, who have recently gained national prominence thanks to the movie “Red Tails,” which hit theatres last month. Sixteen of these men came from the Homewood area and many more servicemen and women have emerged from Homewood-Brushton to defend America. KINGSLEY CARRYTuskegee Airmen “When I found out how many came from the Homewood Brushton community, it really inspired me. I grew up in this area and I saw what it was and I know what it can be again. I thought this would be a great event to inspire the youth,” said Minister Nicita Moses, who organized the event. “My message is just like it was in the scripture; my concept was to give children hope that good things do come out of Homewood. It might not look like much now but there are good things that have come out of Homewood. This is my way of trying to turn it around. I can’t do everything, but I can do one thing.”


Community Calendar

Black History Celebration FEB. 18—Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Hill District Branch will host a Taste Off: Best Sweet Potato Pie on the Hill! At 11 a.m. The event is part of the Black History Month Celebration and is open to all. Registration is required. There will also be a book discussion with the Expresso Libre Book Club on “Glorious” by Bernice McFadden. For more information, call 412-281-3753 or visit http://www.carnegielibrary.org.


Urban Innovation21 reaches out to Black neighborhoods

The Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone, which has been tasked to spur entrepreneurship, new technology start-ups and economic development in commercial corridors in the Hill District, North Side, Uptown and Downtown, has changed its name to Urban Innovation21 and is expanding its reach to other underserved neighborhoods. BILL GENERETT


Bryant follows Elliot example

Cleaning offices in the U.S. Steel building in Downtown Pittsburgh in 1975 to support her two small children, Maurita Bryant did not foresee a 34-year career cleaning up the streets of Pittsburgh that has led her to become the first Black female Assistant Chief of the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. Her desire to provide a better life for her daughters prompted her to apply to the police academy after reading an announcement that women would be hired for the first time. MAURITA BRYANT


New direction for Rev. Gregg

At one time women were not allowed in the pulpit but all that has been changing the past few years, and leading the way in Pittsburgh has been Rev. Brenda J. Gregg. REV. BRENDA GREGG


Getting Blacks in business

Doris Carson Williams heads the second-largest minority chamber in the United States. She became executive director in 1998, when the chamber first established an office and president and CEO in 1999. DORIS CARSON WILLIAMS