Category Archives: African-Americans

Pittsburgh Dems Oppose 1st Black Woman State Rep from Western PA for Re-Election

Both UE and SEIU Still Back Summer Lee

State Representative Summer Lee (photo courtesy of Pa House Democrats)

Payday Report

The decision of the county party to oppose Lee came a week after the Pittsburgh-based Allegheny-Fayette Labor Council voted to oppose Lee. However, UE and SEIU have both backed Lee.

Lee, a former organizer with the Fight For $15, has drawn fierce opposition from the region’s building trades for her opposition to fracking in her district and her support of the Green New Deal. Already, the region’s more conservative unions have pumped more than $67,000 into her opponent, pro-fracking North Braddock councilman Chris Roland.

On Sunday, the Allegheny County Democratic Committee met and voted overwhelmingly to endorse Lee’s opponent, Roland. Much like the Labor Council’s endorsement, Lee was the only incumbent not to endorsed by the labor-dominated Committee.

In addition to opposing Lee, the Committee voted to oppose progressive challenger Jessica Benham vying for a South Side based state representative’s seat. Instead, they choose to endorse Heather Kass, who openly bragged on social media that she supported President Trump.

For Lee, who defeated a 20-year incumbent by a margin of 68%-32% to become state representative in 2018, the snub was yet another sign of the false promises of the white-dominated political machines of Western Pennsylvania.

“The Democratic Party claims it wants more “diversity.” Claims it respects the Black ppl who form its base. Claims it supports women leadership. Claims it trusts the Black women who propel it to victory every time,” wrote Lee on Twitter. “The lie detector test determined…..that was a lie.”

Since the announcement that the local Democratic Party would oppose her re-election, Lee says she has received more than 200 individual donations and an outpouring of support. She says that dozens of people have signed up to volunteer, and the campaign’s grassroots capability is growing as a result of the backlash against the white-dominated Western PA political establishment.

“We know they never wanted us at their little table. We’re still eating, though!” wrote Lee on Facebook.

(Full Disclosure: My father, Gene Elk, is the elected Director of Organization of the United Electrical Workers (UE), which has endorsed Summer Lee’s campaign. Representative Lee and I both attended Woodland Hills High School together, while it was still under federal desegregation orders in the early 2000s). 

New Brighton was ‘Hub of the Underground Railroad’

At least nine sites in New Brighton — homes, flour mill and church — were safe houses to help runaway slaves escape from Southern states where slavery was legal to free states in the North, and ultimately to Canada.

By Marsha Keefer
Beaver County Times

June 9, 2019 – NEW BRIGHTON — New Brighton’s strategic location on the Beaver River and compassion of prominent abolitionists made the borough a natural harbor for fugitive slaves seeking asylum prior to the Civil War.

“It was the hub of the Underground Railroad,” said Odette Lambert, a member and former president of New Brighton Historical Society, who’s spent close to a quarter century researching the town’s clandestine freedom trail.

The organized system depended upon a network of people and safe houses to help runaway slaves escape from Southern states where slavery was legal to free states in the North, and ultimately to Canada.

It’s estimated as many as 100,000 slaves may have fled the South between and 1810 and 1850, according to u-s-history.com.

At least nine sites in New Brighton — homes, flour mill and church — were part of the effort.

What’s fascinating, Odette said, is that “very few safe houses are still in existence in the country” — many of them in disrepair and ultimately demolished — “and our little town of New Brighton is one of the few that still has that many homes in existence.” Continue reading New Brighton was ‘Hub of the Underground Railroad’

Anniversary March Commemorates Selma, Stresses the Importance of Voting

By Justin Criado

Beaver County Times

March 9, 2015 – BEAVER FALLS — Upwards of 100 people marched from New Brighton to Beaver Falls on Sunday afternoon to commemorate the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," which took place March 7, 1965, in Selma, Ala., as civil rights activists marched to the state capital of Montgomery for voting rights.

"Things like this sparks into the people to get out there and vote, and that we have a chance to get out there and make a difference," said Abe Askew, of Aliquippa.

Askew believed that Sunday’s march and similar acts of empowerment can have positive impacts on people and communities alike, saying he will spread the word regarding the importance of voting.

"(I’ll tell) all the people that I know from Aliquippa and it’ll go from here to there," Askew said. "It goes into a stream and a stream into a river."

The march began at New Brighton’s Townsend Park, across from the borough building at Third Avenue and Sixth Street, and crossed the bridge over the Beaver River to Beaver Falls, before concluding at Beaver Falls Memorial Park at Sixth Avenue and 11th Street, where several guest speakers addressed the crowd, including event organizer Olivia Ryan.

Ryan, a graduate of Beaver Falls High School and Kent State University, decided to organize the event after a panel discussion on law, race and the community last weekend at Geneva College. (Continued)

Continue reading Anniversary March Commemorates Selma, Stresses the Importance of Voting

Pittsburgh’s Mayor Supports Chief McLay’s Embrace of Anti-Racism Message

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay on New Year’s Eve, holding a sign offered by the local activist group What’s Up?! Pittsburgh. The photo was widely circulated on social media. What’s Up?! Pittsburgh

City police union president objects to chief’s appearance in social media and effect on officer morale

By Michael A. Fuoco
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jan 4, 2015 Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto was at home with his girlfriend on New Year’s Eve when he glanced at his smartphone and saw a Facebook posting of a photograph of Police Chief Cameron McLay holding a sign reading “I resolve to challenge racism @ work. # end white silence.”

“I thought, ‘What a great way to begin the new year,’ ” the mayor said, and he showed his girlfriend the photo. It had been taken by activists from What’s Up?! Pittsburgh, who approached the chief in a coffee shop during the city’s First Night festivities and asked him pose with their sign.

So pleased was Mayor Peduto with his new police chief’s action that he quickly posted the photograph on his own Facebook account, adding his support to restoring trust between the police bureau and the communities it serves, a stated goal of Chief McLay.

“I thought there was very little chance for someone to say this was the wrong message to send,” Mr. Peduto recounted Saturday.

He was wrong.

The photo, which continues to be shared on social media, has drawn cheers from numerous groups and individuals, but Fraternal Order of Police President Howard McQuillan isn’t among them.

KDKA-TV quoted him Friday as saying the photo amounted to the chief labeling the police force as racist. And in an email to the chief, obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Officer McQuillan wrote that the chief’s actions raised “serious concerns. … By Mayor Peduto labeling us ‘corrupt and mediocre’ and now our current Chief insinuating that we are now racist, merely by the color of our skin and the nature of our profession, I say enough is enough!”

Moreover, Officer McQuillan accused the chief of violating the bureau’s social media policy and of being “hypocritical” for disciplining two officers who violated it.

In response, Chief McLay sent an email to the entire bureau Friday with the subject line “Race and Police” in which he apologized “if any of my PBP family was offended,” adding “I saw no indictment of police or anyone else in this sign.”

Continue reading Pittsburgh’s Mayor Supports Chief McLay’s Embrace of Anti-Racism Message

Meet the Preacher Behind Moral Mondays

Coming to Beaver County in June, The Reverend William Barber is charting a new path for protesting Republican overreach in the South—and maybe beyond.

By Lisa Rab

Beaver County Blue via Mother Jones

April 14, 2014 – The Reverend William Barber is charting a new path for protesting conservative overreach in the North Carolina—and beyond.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, the Reverend William Barber II [1] reclined uncomfortably in a chair in his office, sipping bottled water as he recovered from two hours of strenuous preaching. When he was in his early 20s, Barber was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful arthritic condition affecting the spine. Still wearing his long black robes, the 50-year-old minister recounted how, as he’d proclaimed in a rolling baritone from the pulpit that morning, "a crippled preacher has found his legs."

It began a few days before Easter 2013, recalled Barber, pastor at the Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and president of the state chapter [2] of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). "On Maundy Thursday, they chose to crucify voting rights," he said.

"They" are North Carolina Republicans, who in November 2012 took control of the state Legislature and the governor’s mansion for the first time in more than a century. Among their top priorities—along with blocking Medicaid expansion and cutting unemployment benefits and higher-education spending—was pushing through a raft of changes to election laws, including reducing the number of early voting days, ending same-day voter registration, and requiring ID at the polls. "That’s when a group of us said, ‘Wait a minute, this has just gone too far,’" Barber said.

Barber "believed we needed to kind of burst this bubble of ‘There’s nothing we can do for two years until the next election.’"

On the last Monday of April 2013, Barber led a modest group of clergy and activists into the state legislative building in Raleigh. They sang "We Shall Overcome," quoted the Bible, and blocked the doors to the Senate chambers. Barber leaned on his cane as capitol police led him away in handcuffs.

That might have been the end of just another symbolic protest, but then something happened: The following Monday, more than 100 protesters showed up at the capitol. Over the next few months, the weekly crowds at the "Moral Mondays" protests grew to include hundreds, and then thousands, not just in Raleigh but also in towns around the state. The largest gathering, in February, drew tens of thousands of people [3]. More than 900 protesters have been arrested for civil disobedience over the past year. Copycat movements have started in Florida [4], Georgia [5], South Carolina [6], and Alabama [7] in response to GOP legislation regarding Medicaid and gun control.

Continue reading Meet the Preacher Behind Moral Mondays

More Arrested as North Carolina Legislature Protests vs. Austerity and Racism Continue

Click photo for video

By CHRIS KARDISH

Beaver County Blue via AP

May 6, 2013 – RALEIGH — More than two dozen members of the NAACP and other activists were arrested Monday as part of continuing protests of Republican policies in the state capital, bringing to dozens the number of nonviolent demonstrators facing charges.

The demonstrators were arrested Monday by Raleigh and General Assembly police. The number of arrests, as well as the size of the crowd that turned out to offer support, grew from last Monday’s demonstrations, when 17 were arrested.

General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver said law enforcement officials decided to admit them despite last week’s arrests while they determine what the law permits. He said those arrested most recently will face the same charges of second-degree trespassing, failure to disperse on command and the displaying of signs or placards, which violates building rules.

The group arrested Monday included Barber’s 20-year-old son, William Joseph Barber III, a student at North Carolina Central University; William Chafe, former dean of Arts and Sciences at Duke University; Robert Korstad, a professor of public policy and history at Duke; Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, an historian at the University of North Carolina; Charles van der Horst, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and members of the social justice group Raging Grannies.

“I started in 1954 at the Youth March for Integrated Schools in New York,” said Vicki Ryder of Raging Grannies. “I’ve been doing this for a long time.”

Continue reading More Arrested as North Carolina Legislature Protests vs. Austerity and Racism Continue

Update on Challenging Voter ID

Yet Another Reason to Defeat All GOP Candidates—If You Needed One

 

Viviette Applewhite is 93-year-old and has voted in nearly every election for the last 60 years. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Georgia. She has tried for years to obtain photo ID to no avail. Under Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law, Ms. Applewhite’s vote will not be counted. She is a plaintiff in our lawsuit to stop voter ID.

Learn more about ACLU-PA’s challenge to Pennsylvania’s unconstitutional voter ID law at: http://www.aclupa.org/legal/legaldocket/applewhiteetalvcommonwealt/index

Tragedies, Crimes and Trayvon Martin

How Newt Played the ‘Race Card’ Against Obama’s Decency

By Carl Davidson
United Steel Workers Blog

Every so often an outrage happens that lights up the sky, like when lighting strikes at night, and all of a sudden everything previously hidden in darkness and shadow stands out in sharp, bright relief.

The murder of Trayvon Martin was such an event, even though it took a while for the rolling thunder of its full impact to spread across the country. Slowly at first, and then in greater leaps, the news media, after being nudged, picked it up.

Continue reading Tragedies, Crimes and Trayvon Martin

Yet Another Reason to Defeat the GOP Across the Board

More of the Same: Voter Suppression = Corporate Domination

By Ja-Rei Wang
AFL-CIO Now

March 21, 2012 – Pennsylvania has become the latest state to pass a voter ID law in the Republican-led nationwide effort to deny the vote to millions.

H.B. 934, which Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law last Wednesday, will effectively disenfranchise 691,000 Pennsylvanians who do not currently have a driver’s license, according to a 2006 Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) estimate. African Americans, seniors, people with disabilities, the working poor and students are twice as likely as others to lack ID. Voter ID bills introduced across the country would disenfranchise more than 21 million eligible voters.

Continue reading Yet Another Reason to Defeat the GOP Across the Board