“Oh, what a precious dream, to be young, gifted and Black, open your hearts to what I mean.”

On March 13 at the Churchill Valley Country Club, St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Young Adult Christian Ministry presented their third annual “Young, Gifted and Black” Awards Dinner. The 10 honorees included an actor, high school principal, journalist and an entrepreneur.

YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK—Shawn McNeil, Ashley Johnson, Gina Johnson and Wayne Walters, Ph.D.

Mistress of ceremonies Michelle White, said, “Young people are important and they need each one of us to stand behind them.”


The early evening program featured soloist Jocelyn Scott and Eddie Edwards Sr. as guest speaker. Dr. Crysta Gun-Tucker (Pittsburgh District director, Christian Education Department) presented beautiful plaques to Jonathan Berry (actor), Deanna Crosby (nNurse, VA Hospital), David Hall (reporter, KDKA-TV), Demetrius Ivory (meteorologist, WTAE), Ashley Nicole Johnson, (staff writer, New Pittsburgh Courier), Gina Johnson (professional massage therapist), Shawn McNeil (principal, Westinghouse High School), Monet Miller (site coordinator, Pittsburgh LEARNS Program), Jaira Pryor (songwriter and producer), and Wayne Walters, Ph.D. (principal, Barack Obama Academy of International Studies).

After a delightful dinner Edwards stepped into a spot that he is most familiar with, the spot behind the microphone. Edwards quipped, “It is nice to be in a country club, I remember when I tried to join one.”

YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK—Monet Miller, Denna Crosby, Jaira Pryor and Jonathan Berry.

Hailed nationally as the only African-American to own a major market television station in Pittsburgh, Edwards is the former owner/operator of several commercial television stations across the country. He has spent his entire professional life in the broadcast/communications industry, working for such giants as NBC, The Sinclair Broadcast Group and Westinghouse, to name a few. However, on this evening, the business of radio or the lack of a major Black-owned radio station in Pittsburgh was on his mind.

Edwards shared that he purchased an AM station in Pittsburgh and was ready to buy an FM station when he was rushed into Cleveland Clinic for a week while he was spending time in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. His doctor told him he didn’t have a heart attack but he should back away from the stress of radio ownership.

“Who is going to buy a station to replace WAMO?” asked Edwards. “Here we are in March of 2010 and no radio station. That should bother each of us, we have no outlet to discuss the issues like the health care bill and no where to get our information from.” He said his good friend Kathy Hughes has her eye on this market and he is working hard to do something part-time. Edwards closed by encouraging young adults and youths to get into school, take a stand and get involved and most importantly, remember to vote. “If we don’t vote we’re going to be on the outside looking in.”

“You are young, gifted and Black we must begin to tell our young there’s a world waiting for you. Yours is the quest that’s just begun.”

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