Now if the many, many, many churches in the community would join forces with them as well as the political leaders, what a force they would have.
Homewood and the Lincoln-Larimer areas have grown into probably the worst communities in the city, with the lack of education and jobs being the root of the problem. Many of these groups were formed to service the people in need. And with the unification of these groups and organizations more people will now receive the help needed. Treating the problem is great but you always need to go to the heart of the problem to really eliminate the problems. And the heart is lack of education and lack of employment. Byrdsong is also addressing this problem in his effort to get more community residents jobs. It doesn’t matter, what job, as long as it’s a job. The construction industry provides good paying jobs, and jobs with a future. But for some reason we as Black men can’t get our hands dirty, thus either avoiding or looking down our noses at construction jobs or not being allowed in by the unions.
Twelve jobs are not many but it’s a start. Construction is hard work, and dirty work, but it pays well. My father worked construction until he found he could make more money in the scrap iron business. Another advantage to construction is that once you learn a skill you can not only use that skill for working for someone else, you can use it for renovating your own house, or starting your own business.
What are the big problems in the Black Homewood? Right behind the lack of education and jobs are blighted lots, and vacant blighted buildings. Well, if more young people knew plumbing, carpentry, electrical work, painting, masonry work, and other skills in the building trades they could buy homes in their communities and renovate them. They could also assist their neighbors when they need work done and can’t find anyone. We use to call them handymen. Instead of having someone come all the way from Carnegie, or some other far off suburb, why not call on your neighbor. Of course you have to pay them just like you would the people from the suburbs. I had to put that out there because sometimes we don’t want to pay our own.
Hopefully this is just the beginning. Hopefully these organizations will keep their egos out of the way and continue to work together, helping lift Homewood back into one of the most beautiful communities in Pittsburgh.
Speaking of community leaders, I was very glad to receive a press release sent to me announcing that Jackie Fielder is coming out of retirement to take over as 12th Ward Chairman again. She generally always lets the Courier know what she is doing, and informed us in time of her community meetings in the past. That’s a whole lot more than I can say about any of the other Black Ward Chairs. None of them have called us, and unless we dig up the information ourselves, this group has become one of the most secretive groups in the city. They use to be the Black leaders in the community and the city as a whole, but now they act as though they are a private entity instead of elected officials. No one knows what their priorities are, and what their views are because they appear to be a part of a secret society. Maybe Ms. Fielder should be the citywide Ward Chair. Once again, it’s good to have you back Ms. Fielder. And continue to do what you are doing Mr. Byrdsong.
(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)