Tag: Pittsburgh

Activist and Police Shooting Survivor Leon Ford, 25, to Run for Pittsburgh City Council

Leon Ford speaks at Philander Smith College (Photo Credit: Instagram)

by Christina Santi via ebony.com

Activist Leon Ford, 25, who was shot and paralyzed by police in 2012, announced his bid for Pittsburgh City Council on Thursday, according to WTAE, Pittsburgh Action News 4.

“I have been speaking all over the country encouraging young people to not only vote, but to run for office,” Ford wrote in a statement. “I never considered running for office until I realized that I was one of the only voices bold enough to stand up for the people and speak truth to power.”

He will be running for a seat to represent District 9, which is now held by Rev. Ricky Burgess, who had held the position since 2007.

Ford was shot by detective David Derbish after a traffic stop. He later filed a civil rights lawsuit which was led to a $5.5 million settlement with the city. The council consented to the payout, but Rev. Burgess was absent for the vote.

The young activist went viral in 2017 after sharing a video of his son encouraging him to learn to walk again. The young boy can be heard saying, “Keep pushing. Don’t give up,” as he helps Ford with a walker.

Ford tweeted the sentimental moment, writing, “When you get shot by a police officer 5 times–and docs say that you will ever walk but your son says keep pushing.”

Ford said his campaign will focus on “restoring hope in our neighborhoods, creating new economic opportunities for our residents and healing one another to make all of our communities safe, vibrant, prosperous and livable for all.”

According to The Incline, Ford decided to embark on a political career after the fatal police shooting of Antwon Rose II, an unarmed 17-year-old, in East Pittsburgh in June.

“I’m a candidate now,” he told the publication. “I never considered running for public office. In fact, there was a time that I was against it, but now I’ve learned more about politics and policy and, it’s like, I’m tired of protesting and showing up at community meetings where the decisions are already made.”

Ford will host a campaign kickoff on Nov. 11, six years to the date of his shooting. Below is his TEDx Talk on”Turning Pain into Purpose”:

Source: https://www.ebony.com/news-views/police-shooting-survivor-running-pittsburgh-city-council

Denzel Washington Headlines Event in Pittsburgh Marking Renovation of August Wilson Home

Denzel Washington greets August Wilson’s daughter, Sakina Ansari-Wilson, at the groundblessing for August Wilson House. (photo by Nate Smallwood via Tribune-Review)

by Wes Venteicher via triblive.com

Actor Denzel Washington headlined a rainy ceremony Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh’s Hill District to mark the start of renovations at playwright August Wilson’s childhood home.

Washington led a $5 million fundraising effort to restore what is now called the August Wilson House. Renovations are expected to be completed in 2020, when the house is set to become a center for art and culture in the neighborhood.

“It is a privilege and an honor and a responsibility … and a joy to play a small part in keeping him alive,” Washington told an audience that huddled under umbrellas in the yard of the house at 1727 Bedford Ave.

Paul Ellis, Wilson’s nephew, led an effort to restore the nearly 200-year-old building to its 1950s-era look, matching how it appeared when Wilson lived there with his mother and five siblings. Wilson, who died in 2005, last visited the house in 1999.

Denzel Washington speaks at ground blessing of August Wilson House in Pittsburgh’s Historic Hill District (photo by Nate Smallwood via Tribune-Review)

When renovations are complete, the building — which is now on the National Register of Historic Places — will house displays and artifacts from Wilson’s life and plays. Wilson said he wanted the building to be “useful,” not only a museum, Ellis said. It will incorporate artist studios and will continue to host plays in its yard.

Duquesne University has launched a program to award fellowships to emerging writers who will live and study at Duquesne and spend time working at the House, Duquesne President Ken Gormley said.

Washington, who starred in a 2016 film production of Wilson’s play “Fences,” called Wilson one of the world’s great playwrights and talked about a familiar feeling in visiting the Hill District house. “I love August Wilson,” Washington said. “He touches my soul, our souls, in a way that no one else I know has. This is just like coming home.”

He identified some of the project’s big-name donors, noting Oprah Winfrey and actor Tyler Perry each gave $1 million and writer and producer Shonda Rhimes, director Spike Lee and actor Samuel L. Jackson all contributed.

Washington is producing nine more of Wilson’s plays — the rest of the 10 plays in the playwright’s Century Cycle.

Duquesne University has already selected its first fellow, former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Natasha Trethewey. Trethewey read her poem “Pilgrimage” at the ceremony, which included short performances of Wilson’s work by student Jamaica Johnson and Pittsburgh actor Wali Jamal.

Read more: https://triblive.com/local/allegheny/14120687-74/denzel-washington-headlines-event-marking-renovation-of-august-wilson-home

Christina Lewis’ All Star Code Nonprofit Raises Over $1 Million to Expand STEM “Summer Intensive” Program for Boys of Color

by Selena Hill via blackenterprise.com

All Star Code (ASC) will carry out its mission to educate, prepare, and place young men of color in the tech industry through its fifth annual “Summer Intensive” STEM summer program. The nonprofit announced Tuesday that it raised over $1 million for the growth and development of the program. ASC also received a record number of applicants—nearly 1,000 for just 160 spots. According to Christina Lewis, who founded ASC in 2013, the organization is on track to educate a total of 10,000 young black and Latino men in tech and entrepreneurship by 2022.

“All Star Code’s impact continues to spread as we establish a pipeline of talented and ambitious young entrepreneurs who are ready to enter the tech industry,” said Lewis in a statement. “Tech is one of the most influential and lucrative industries, so it’s vital that Black and Latino young men are better represented in this space to capture its economic opportunity.”

BOYS WILL LEARN WEB DEVELOPMENT AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN STEM SUMMER PROGRAM 

ASC’s flagship “Summer Intensive” program is a free six-week course that teaches students web development skills and about entrepreneurship. It also empowers students with soft skills and a network of like-minded peers. It will take place in New York City and Pittsburgh.

The effectiveness of All Star Code’s curriculum is amplified by corporate partners like AT&T, Cisco, Goldman Sachs, Google, JPMorgan Chase, MLB, and Medidata, as well as the academic institutions Chatham University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, which provide operational and financial support and services. Through these partnerships, students will gain access to mentorships, speakers, and professional work culture.

Since its creation in 2013, about 300 students have participated in ASC’s flagship summer programs. Of the summer intensive students, 95% of All Star Code graduates have gone on to four-year colleges, while half of the graduates have created their own business or tech-related project, reads the press release.

Lewis says she was inspired by her late father, iconic businessman Reginald F. Lewis, to launch ASC as a vehicle to diversify the tech space. “I channeled his legacy to start All Star Code,” she said. Before his death in 1993, Reginald created TLC Beatrice International Holdings, the first black-owned global enterprise to earn more than a billion dollars in revenue. “I realized that if my father were a young man today, he would no doubt be working in technology, the growth industry for building wealth in the 21st century,” Lewis told Black Enterprise.

Source: http://www.blackenterprise.com/black-boys-stem-summer-program/

Northwestern Professor and Poet Natasha Trethewey Wins the $250,000 Heinz Award in Arts and Humanities

Natasha Trethewey (photo via creativeloafing.com)

via jbhe.com

Natasha Trethewey, the Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, has been selected to receive the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities. The award comes with an unrestricted $250,000 prize. Teresa Heinz, chair of the Heinz Family Foundation, stated that Professor Trethewey’s “writing captivates us with its power and its ability to personalize and fearlessly illuminate stories of our past as a people and a nation. We honor her not only for her body of work, but for her contributions as a teacher and mentor dedicated to inspiring the next generation of writers.”

Professor Trethewey is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection, Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) and three other poetry collections. She is also the author of Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (University of Georgia Press, 2010). Professor Trethewey served two terms as poet laureate of the United States. A native of Gulfport, Mississippi, Professor Trethewey is a graduate of the University of Georgia. She holds a master’s degree from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Professor Trethewey will be honored with three other Heinz Award winners at a ceremony in Pittsburgh on October 18.

Source: Natasha Trethewey Wins the $250,000 Heinz Award in Arts and Humanities : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

All Star Code Founder Christina Lewis Halpern Exposes Boys of Color to STEM Opportunities

All Star Code founder Christina Lewis Halpern with All Star students (photo via allstarcode.org)

via blavity.com

“We all want and need a seat at the table, and then we want to run the table and then we want to have our own table. Coding is the ticket to that,” says Christina Lewis Halpern, the founder of All Star Code, a six-week initiative for high school boys of color to discover innovative career opportunities through a computer science based curriculum.

According to Atlanta Black Star, the New York activist is the daughter of the late Reginald F. Lewis, a Wall Street attorney who became the first African-American to build a billion-dollar company. Her father, a Harvard graduate before dying of brain cancer in 1993, operated TLC Beatrice International, a grocery, beverage and household products distributor.

The month before he passed, Lewis named Halpern, who was only 12-years-old at the time, to the board of his foundation. “My family foundation is committed to social justice and believes in the power of entrepreneurship and investing in our community,” Halpern said. Two decades into the future and Halpern, a professional business journalist, created the All Star Code program “to help the next generation of youth catch the next wave of opportunity.”

So how did she do it? “We seeded this initiative and provided an anchor grant. About 20 percent of the money invested in All Star Code last year was from the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, or Lewis family personal funds,” Halpern explained. Other donors included Bond Collective, Cisco, Comcast, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Chase, MLB Advanced Media and Yahoo!. These corporations in addition to operational support gave $350,000 in funding.

Because of the lack of opportunities in STEM for men and women of color, Halpern’s All Star Code is designed to change that. The nonprofit raised more than $740,000 in 2016 at the annual All Star Code fundraiser in the Hamptons. Due to the generous contributions of the donors, the organization, which started in New York City and has stretched to Pittsburgh, has expanded and continues to grow rapidly.

The number of boys that participated in the Summer initiative skyrocketed from only 20 in 2014 to 160 this year. Halpern says that their goal is to have at least 1,000 high schoolers in 2020.

To read full article, go to: Daughter Of The First African-American To Build A Billion-Dollar Company Exposes Boys Of Color To STEM Opportunities | BLAVITY

Brown University Professor John Edgar Wideman Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters

John Edgar Wideman (photo via .com)
John Edgar Wideman (photo via abpspeakers.com)

article via jbhe.com

The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1904 as a highly selective group of 50 members within a larger organization called the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Over the years the two groups functioned separately with different memberships, budgets, and boards of directors. In 1993 the two groups finally agreed to form a single group of 250 members under the name of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Members are chosen from the fields of literature, music, and the fine arts. Members must be native or naturalized citizens of the United States. They are elected for life and pay no dues. New members are elected only upon the death of other members.

This year 12 new members were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. One of the 12 new members is John Edgar Wideman.

Wideman is the Asa Messer Professor and professor of Africana studies and literary arts at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Before joining the faculty at Brown, Professor Wideman was a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Professor Wideman grew up in Pittsburgh and then enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania where he was an all-Ivy League basketball player. His senior year at Penn, Wideman was named a Rhodes Scholar, the first African American to win the honor in over a half century.

After returning from Oxford, Wideman graduated from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Professor Wideman is the author of numerous novels, short story collections, and memoirs including Brothers and Keepers (Henry Holt, 1984) and Fatheralong: A Meditation on Fathers and Sons, Race and Society (Pantheon, 1994).

University of Pittsburgh Acquires Archives of Jazz Pianist Erroll Garner

Garner
Jazz Legend Erroll Garner (photo via jbhe.com)

The University of Pittsburgh announced that it has acquired the professional archives of jazz pianist Erroll Garner.

Garner was born in Pittsburgh in 1921. He began playing piano at age 3 and by the age of seven was performing on the radio. In 1944, Garner moved to New York City where he became a leading performer and composer. He wrote the score for several films and Broadway plays. His ballad “Misty” became a major hit of Johnny Mathis was the featured in the 1971 Clint Eastwood film Play Misty for Me.

To see video of his signature song, click below:

 

The archives were assembled by Garner’s long-time agent and manager, the late Martha Glaser and were donated to the university by Glaser’s estate. Included in the collection are correspondence, performance and recording contracts, sheet music, awards, audio and video recordings, photographs, and memorabilia.

Erroll Garner died in 1977 at the age of 55.

original article via jbhe.com; additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson 

$400,000 Awarded to 43 Black Fathers, Nonprofit Leaders and Businessmen in Akron, Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh

(Washington, DC) – This month, forty-three black fathers, nonprofit leaders and businessmen in Akron, Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will receive $400,000 in grants to help them strengthen their communities. The grants are presented by BMe Community, a growing national network of 12,000 black men and others of all races and genders who are committed to building better communities across the U.S.

According to BMe Community, the 43 men, called “BMe Leaders”, were nominated by local residents and chosen because they were already consistently helping thousands of their neighbors. Each of the men has also agreed to stand up for important values in America’s evolving dialogue on race, community and our nation’s future.

Specifically, BMe Community believes that the most prosperous way forward for America is to value all its people, recognize black men as assets, reject stories that denigrate people, and work together for our common interests in caring and prosperous communities. The BMe Leaders embody those values. Their personal stories and leadership inspires others to reach for those values as well. Participants in BMe Community use the hashtag #ReachWithUs to share, inspire, and empower each other with words of congratulation, useful information, images, and event invites.

BMe started honoring these 43 “Community Fathers” in local ceremonies that began June 18 and end tomorrow in Detroit on June 27th. The events and BMe Community are backed by private donations, leading foundations and corporations including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The Heinz Endowments, JP Morgan Chase, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Since 2012, BMe has named 143 BMe Leaders in five cities, sponsored over 100 community events and produced countless stories of solutions and the inspiring people behind them.

One of the first to ever be named a BMe Leader is Shaka Senghor, an author, speaker and leader in criminal justice reform who was named a BMe Leader in 2012 for his efforts in Detroit to increase literacy and decrease violence. The honor came less than two years after he was released from serving 19 years in prison for a crime he committed as a teenager. In the three years since BMe recognized him, Shaka has rattled off an impressive list of accomplishments including being named an MIT Media Lab Fellow, a Kellogg Foundation Community Fellow, being featured in BMe’s bestselling book “REACH: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading and Succeeding” and producing a popular TED Talk titled “Why Your Worst Deeds Shouldn’t Define You.” He currently serves as BMe’s National Outreach Representative.  To see his Ted Talk, watch below:

BMe encourages anyone who shares its values to register for the events or become a participant in the network. www.bmecommunity.org.

BMe Leaders come from all walks of life, ranging in age from 21 to over 80. They are black men who are often unheralded yet lead by example on matters ranging from creating businesses to educating children to protecting human rights. The BMe Leaders work with men and women of all races who also want cities that are prosperous, safe, and provide hope and opportunity to future generations.

“America is at another one of those historic moments where we can choose chaos or community” says Shorters, “These men have always been here. We just admit their existence and invite people of all races and genders to reach with us to build assets, build community and give our children a better story of America’s future.”

The next Induction Ceremony is open to the public tomorrow in Detroit at the University of Michigan Detroit Center, Michigan Room at 1:00 p.m.  RSVP: www.bmecommunity.org/detroit2015

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

 

 

Reflections in Black: Celebrating African Americans in Photography

Augustus Washington (1820–1875)
Unidentified woman, probably a member of the Urias McGill family, daguerreotype, sixth plate, 1855, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LZ-USZC4-3937.

article via blog.charlesguice.com

Twelve years ago, Reflections in Black became the largest exhibition ever conceived to explore the breadth and history of work by black photographers.

It is unlikely that many people would be familiar with the name Jules Lion. A free man of color, Lion established the first daguerrean studio in New Orleans and, in doing so, became somewhat of a local celebrity. Alone, his accomplishments might have been of little interest. But the fact that he did this in the early spring of 1840, soon after the announcement of the daguerreotype process, is worthy of special attention. Moreover, there is evidence that Lion may have immigrated from France with knowledge of the process. For historian Deborah Willis, Lion’s achievements mark not only the beginning of photography in the U.S., but the pioneering involvement of blacks in the medium. As a result, Lion is included in the landmark exhibition,Reflections in Black: Smithsonian African American Photography. Continue reading “Reflections in Black: Celebrating African Americans in Photography”

First Black Female Cartoonist Celebrated In New Book

by R. Asmerom

The cartoon industry is a rare industry for anyone to be in, but especially a black woman in the 1930s. A new book by Nancy Goldstein called “Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist” paints a profile of the first black woman cartoonist, who used her art to work in journalism and engage in politics from the 1930s to the 1950s.

Ormes started as a proofreader for the weekly African-American paper the Pittsburgh Courier. She launched a strip there called Torchy Browin In Dixie To Harlem about a Southern teen who was a success in the Cotton Club.

She later moved to Chicago to work for the popular Black newspaper Chicago Defender. There she started Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger, a cartoon that ran for 11 years. Her political voice was consistently heard during her tenure. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

During the McCarthy era, she repeatedly took playful jabs in her cartoons at the House Un-American Activities Committee. Delivered with much humor and gusto, the barbs were often spoken by an adorable little girl named Patty-Jo, who always had a way of summing up all that her older, more fashionable sister, Ginger, remained silent about while expressing a look of utter shock that her little sister could say such a thing as:

“It would be interestin’ to discover WHICH committee decided it was un-American to be COLORED!”

Ornes didn’t escape the watchful eye of the vigilant FBI during that time, reportedly being closely watched by the agency for ten years because of some attendance at meetings for American communist groups. She admitted to attending meetings but denied being part of the Communist movement.

According to the book, Ornes used her cartoons to lobby for The March of Dimes and to protest segregation and American foreign policy.  Besides her sophisticated political voice, Ornes was known for her elegant depictions.

She often used her own quite charming and beautiful form as the model for her main characters such as Ginger and Torchy Brown, who are downright glamorous — in such a manner not before seen in graphic art depictions of African-American women.

Ormes died at the age of 74 in 1985. She was well ahead of her time. As the New York Times noted, the first daily strip to be produced by a Black woman emerged in 1989 by Barbara Brandon-Croft – obviously decades later after Ormes made her mark.