A message that will bring awareness to the importance of creating wealth in the Black community, while inspiring today’s Black youth to become engaged in the organization and its movement, is what the Pittsburgh Unit of the NAACP hopes will come from Compton, Calif., Mayor Aja Brown, when she serves as the keynote speaker of its 60th Annual Human Rights Dinner on Thursday, May 1 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel.

Brown, who is the 13th and youngest individual to be elected mayor of the city, will speak on the theme “Wealth: Affirming the Promise of Yesterday, Creating the Dreams of Tomorrow.” The event is presented by the EQT Corporation.

“We are extremely excited. I think to have someone of Mayor Brown’s caliber serve as our keynote speaker is in the tradition of the Human Rights Dinner, however what else is exciting about her is that she’s 31 and the mayor of a prominent, well-known, primarily Black community,” said K. Chase Patterson, the Pittsburgh NAACP Human Rights Dinner chair.

“The Pittsburgh NAACP is excited to celebrate the impact of individual members and the vibrant community we are proud to be part of,” said Connie Parker, president of the Pittsburgh NAACP. “We are also very delighted to welcome Mayor Brown and look forward to an evening of inspiration, new ideas and building great relationships.”

Brown, a native of Altadena, Calif., and raised by a single mother, is a graduate of Southern California University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy, Urban Planning, and Development, and a master’s degree in Urban Planning, with a concentration in Economic Development.

She started her career as an Economic Development Analyst in Gardena, Calif. Then in 2006 she became an Urban Planner for the City of Inglewood, Calif., and a Redevelopment Project Manager for Compton’s Redevelopment Agency in 2009. But it was June 4, 2013 that she made history as the youngest mayor and the first female chief executive when she defeated, by a landslide, incumbent mayor Eric J. Perrodin and former mayor Omar Bradley.

“My hope is that her message will do two things-first, help our community understand the importance and strategy around creating wealth; and second, help the young people that will be there understand the importance of them being active and getting engaged in the NAACP. What we find with organizations like the NAACP, and even others, is that young folks are more interested in the value that can be derived from their membership and are less interested in providing value to the organization,” said Patterson. “My hope is that Mayor Brown will touch on that and that we can engage a younger group of leaders in the movement who can eventually assume the helm of leadership.”

Next year, Patterson said the NAACP will celebrate 100 years of fighting for civil rights in the Pittsburgh area.

In addition to the keynote address from Brown, the dinner will also include a presentation from the organization to four individuals for their dedication to their communities. Alma Speed Fox, a former executive director of the NAACP, will receive the Bishop Charles H. Foggie Lifetime Achievement Award; Cecile Springer, president of Springer Associates, and Charles Powell, director of Diversity Affairs and Community Outreach for the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, will receive the Judge Homer S. Brown Award; and Sabrina Saunders, executive director of Strong Women-Strong Girls Inc., will receive the Young Professional of the Year Award.

“Each of these individuals have excelled in their professional careers and still found a way to exceed in their commitment to community and service. I think that’s admirable.  They are stellar professionals, with stellar professional careers, as well as stellar community activists and advocates with stellar records of that work,” Patterson said.

Along with EQT Corporation, other corporate sponsors include Panera Bread, Highmark, PNC, Dollar Bank, Fifth Third Bank, First Commonwealth Bank, Giant Eagle, Pepsi, Coca Cola, People’s Gas, Westinghouse Corporation and the United Steelworkers Union.

Although the dinner is only weeks away, Parker said the NAACP is seeking volunteers to assist with the preparation. Tickets for the dinner are $75 per person and available through Monday, April 28.

(For more information, call 412-471-1024 or visit http://60thannualhumanrightsdinner.eventbrite.com.)


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