Jealous’ visit to Pittsburgh was part of a Pittsburgh Public Theater event at the O’Reilly Theater where local high school students attended a performance of “Thurgood,” a play named for Thurgood Marshall, one time chief counsel for the NAACP, and a lawyer in the case of Brown v Board of Education that lead to school desegregation. Marshall later became the first Black U. S. Supreme Court justice. At a forum prior to the play they examined the history of the civil rights movement and were told about the civil rights struggle still being fought today.
“I’m not talking to you about fears that are not still with us,” Jealous said. “I get death threats monthly because I’m fighting for you. We get death threats for fighting for the right to vote; we get death threats for talking about gun control.”
The event was sponsored by Imani Christian Academy whose students attended alongside students from Gateway, McKeesport, Pittsburgh Perry Traditional Academy, Pittsburgh Obama, and Winchester Thurston. Prior to Jealous, Judge Timothy Lewis, an Imani board member, gave the students a history of the struggle to desegregate schools.
“Even today, 58 years after Brown vs. Board of Education we are still trying to breathe life into that promise,” Lewis said. “We have come far but this is unfinished work. Some of that work begins with you students and some of that work begins with you teachers.”
Jealous agreed saying school segregation is more present then ever with inequities in achievement and discipline between White and minority students.
“Our schools are rapidly re-segregating. More than 80 percent of what we call an achievement gap is a resources gap. A large portion of the resources gap is teachers, not having high quality teachers,” Jealous said. “If you’re a Black child, you’re more likely to be punished and be punished harshly. If you feel like its happening at your school, you should have a discussion about that.”
Pittsburgh NAACP President Connie Parker also greeted the students and gave them information on how to become involved in the Pittsburgh Unit. Together with Jealous, the two urged the students to realize the power of their voice.
“Organized people can always beat organized money,” Jealous said. “Rich people can get together and say this is what we want to happen, but you can decide whether or not it happens with your vote.”