BLACK AGENDA—Sala Udin speaks in front of a coalition for a Black Agenda to be presented to the mayoral candidates. (Photo by J. L. Martello)
Joined by Blacks from across the city who want more African-Americans included in creating and benefiting from city policy, former city Councilman Sala Udin announced the formation of the Pittsburgh Black Political Convention, and put forth a Black Agenda for Mayoral candidates to review and respond to.
He said, during an April 4 press conference, it is to create a unified, Black voting bloc to support a single mayoral candidate who will address the narcotics and gun trafficking, and unemployment at “Great Depression” levels that haunt Pittsburgh’s African-American neighborhoods.
“But we are not so deprived of spirit that we are not able to stand up and say to the mayor and political leaders of our city, ‘You will respond to our needs and to our demands for a quality of life in Pittsburgh, or you will not be elected to high political office,”’ he said. “We have joined together to demand that Black people in Pittsburgh become visible to the political leadership of our city.”
To that end, the convention presented its Black Agenda to all the candidates, and has invited them to respond to it during a community meeting at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church, April 19.
The following day, registered Black voters from across the city will return to Mt. Ararat for a vote to endorse the candidate who best articulates his commitment to the agenda’s priorities.
Of the four mayoral candidates, two are Black; state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Hill, and community organizer A.J. Richardson. Richardson, however, he further hampered his long-shot chances with an April 3 DUI arrest. Before Wheatley won his house seat 10 years ago, he served as an aide to Udin.
Given that close tie, when asked if a White candidate could win the convention’s endorsement, Udin said, “absolutely.”
“We’ve been waiting for a White candidate to speak up for the Black Community for years.”
Udin said the unique opportunity for a Black community endorsement only came about because sitting Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who probably would have won the Democratic Primary endorsement, declined to run. Then City Controller Michael Lamb, who won the endorsement by default, also dropped out to support Jack Wagner.
Udin said while the Agenda and vote only apply to the mayor’s race, that would not be the case going forward.
“Other elected officials should be on notice that we will probably be visiting their offices soon,” he said.
The Black Agenda itself, released to media the following day, covers 12 areas of concern ranging from employment and contracting to police brutality and street violence. It has not yet been posted on the convention’s website, www.blackconvention.com.
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