It is unusual and also commendable that the six elected Black officials, Hon. William “Bill” Robin­son, Hon. Amanda Green, (Allegheny County Council members), Rep. Jake Wheatley, Rep. Edward Gainey  (Pa. House of Representatives), Daniel Lavelle and Rev. Ricky Burgess (Pittsburgh City Council)  support the effort to stabilize August Wilson Center.

My concern is that the Black elected officials and you and I the public must not lose focus on a number of extremely important issues that effect the quality of life throughout the Black community.

What are some of the other critical life threatening issues?

1. Poverty, we must jointly address the unemployment and underemployment that tears our families and communities apart. Of course every person that needs or wants to work can’t be employed, but collectively we can improve the all time high unemployment statistics. The government, federal, state, county and city award contracts that are in the trillions, but Blacks are limited in their opportunities to share in them. We are discussing contracts that are paid with tax dollars. The IRS makes no distinction; tax dollars are not labeled Black, White, Italian, Polish, Jewish, union or nonunion. When you are traveling by personal vehicles or public transportation just look around when you see construction building going on of all types and see if you see any one person working looks like you. I used the example a few months ago when Lincoln Avenue through East Liberty was being paved with asphalt and the asphalt was the only Blackness on the entire project that I could see. We have driven across the Pennsylvania Turnpike over 50 years and I can’t recall ever seeing more than two Blacks working, can you? As you drive through the new South Side, Market Square, East Liberty, Homewood, Downtown, the airport, you will not need a calculator to count the Black workers. There currently is a new hotel being built on Highland Avenue and the number of Blacks working on it is record breaking. I wonder if the fact that a Black man is building the hotel makes a difference?

2. The educators are not the major problem behind the inadequate educational system. There are too many single parent homes because fathers too frequently are shut out of the job market, thereby accelerating the demise of the families. When families have stability they can heighten the expectations of the children.

3. When it comes to Black voters the political system throughout Allegheny County is more disrespectful, calloused and indifferent than ever in history. At the age of 17 I made my first venture to an election poll and what I found in my early years was unbelievable, insulting, demeaning and a perfect example of Up South Mentality when it came to colored persons (we were not Black yet). Over the years there have been a number of Republican and Democrat Black chairmen who made a difference. There were the Williams brothers in the 5th ward Pappy and Jake, later Zach Winston came to power. On the north side there were Jim Bulls and Jimmy Lane, in the 13th ward there was the powerful Euzell “Bubbie” Hairston, and last but not least my chairman in the 12th ward who was the chairman of the chairmen, Dock Fielder who occupied the position of assistant to Allegheny County Commissioner Tom Foerster. You had to come by Dock to get anything done. All of them are deceased and their influence will never again be duplicated.

4. Too many preachers have ceased being Shepherds of their flock and have become so enchanted with tax dollars for their 501c3s that they have been reduced in statue to just being one of the flock.

5. It is imperative that the five Black elected officials come together permanently, particularly on the above issues and others that don’t just benefit them as individuals, but the people.

(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)



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