Since announcing his candidacy for election to the Pittsburgh Board of Education, many have asked why Sala Udin, a former city councilman and past president of Coro Pittsburgh, would come out of retirement for what he called an “unpaid, unappreciated, full-time volunteer position.”
During a meeting with the New Pittsburgh Courier, Udin said he asked himself that exact question.
The idea of doing so, he said, first came to him on Leap Day (Feb. 29) of 2016 when he watched on television as 30 high school girls were, in Udin’s words, “perp-walked” out of Pittsburgh Milliones (University Prep) in the Hill District after a huge brawl there.
“For me, that was more than a fight, that was a culture shift,” he said. “To me, that said something is really, really wrong in the system of education.”
Udin said he realized the years of advocacy of improving outcomes for Black students, that he and others like Rev. Johnnie Monroe had engaged in, had fallen on deaf ears at the school board. So, when he learned District 3 board member Thomas Sumpter was stepping down, Udin decided to run.
“I think a culture of mediocrity and low expectations has a death grip on 341 South Bellefield Ave.,” he told the New Pittsburgh Courier. “I don’t believe they (the school board) think our kids are capable of excellence, and I don’t think they believe the system of education is capable of excellence. We need someone inside the bureaucracy; a partner in advocacy.”