Members of what Central Baptist Church pastor Rev. Victor Grigsby called “one of the strongest coalitions this city has seen in terms of African-American empowerment” announced today it would host the first African American Gubernatorial Candidates Forum next week.

“This august coalition came together bound by a common concern for the oftentimes deplorable condition of African-Americans in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Allegheny County and, of course, the City of Pittsburgh,” Grigsby said.

“We join together at this opportune moment, just prior to the Democratic Primary for the office of Governor to convene a public forum where we will query the gubernatorial candidates on questions that speak to some of the most urgent concerns of the African-American community.”

Joining Grigsby for the press event at Freedom Corner in Pittsburgh’s Hill District were representatives from 10 different Black political, service, religious and economic organizations. Some of these included Joy Maxberry Woodruff, Esther Bush, Rick Adams, Sala Udin, Tim Stevens, Rashad Byrdsong and Brandi Fisher.

Though all four remaining Democratic candidates were invited, only state Treasurer Rob McCord and former state DEP Director Katy McGinty have committed to appear. However, Udin said he expects business-owner Tom Wolf and US Rep. Allyson Schwartz to send surrogates.

“We sent all the candidates a questionnaire addressing issues of concern and asked them to be returned by April 20. We will use those responses to formulate more detailed questions at the April 22 forum,” said Udin, whose Pittsburgh Black Political Convention is the driving force behind the forum.

The questionnaire covered topics ranging from community development, unemployment and education to drug trafficking, voter ID and income inequality. In addition, Udin said, the public will be able t0 write questions for the candidates and submit them  to Adams, who will serve as moderator for the forum.

Stevens said the coalition will distribute the candidates’ responses immediately following the event, and will try to follow up with individualized public meetings with each of the candidates between then and the May 20 Primary.

The forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Central Baptist Church, 2200 Wylie Ave., Pittsburgh 15219. For more information call 412-566-1437.

(More in Wednesday’s Courier.)


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