- CCAC president accepts new role in Ohio - 2013-05-17
- August Wilson Center CEO says closing rumors aren’t true - 2013-05-15
- Pgh corporations called to enact Rooney Rule - 2013-05-15
- Can the Black community change the face of the music industry? - 2013-05-13
- CCAC President Johnson, finalist for Cleveland college position - 2013-05-10
National NAACP president
When Jotaka Eaddy was a teenager working at McDonalds she read a newspaper article about a 16-year-old who was going to be put to death. This article inspired her to take action and over the course of the next 10 years she worked with the NAACP leading grassroots efforts to eliminate the juvenile death penalty in numerous states.
The Supreme Court went on to abolish the juvenile death penalty in 2005 and today Eaddy has moved on to become the senior director for voting rights of the NAACP and special assistant to the president and CEO of the NAACP. The organization’s president, Benjamin Jealous, told Eaddy’s story to a group of local high school students on March 13, hoping to inspire them too to join the NAACP movement.
“We believe that in this room are people who will be great leaders,” Jealous said. “Think of all the Black parents listening to their children say I want to be president and knowing that just couldn’t be. Think of all the fathers listening to their daughters say I want to be president and knowing that just couldn’t be. Your generation is the first one where that is possible.”
Jealous’ visit to Pittsburgh was part of a Pittsburgh Public Theater event at the O’Reilly Theater where local high school students attended a performance of “Thurgood,” a play named for Thurgood Marshall, one time chief counsel for the NAACP, and a lawyer in the case of Brown v Board of Education that lead to school desegregation. Marshall later became the first Black U. S. Supreme Court justice. At a forum prior to the play they examined the history of the civil rights movement and were told about the civil rights struggle still being fought today.
“I’m not talking to you about fears that are not still with us,” Jealous said. “I get death threats monthly because I’m fighting for you. We get death threats for fighting for the right to vote; we get death threats for talking about gun control.”
The event was sponsored by Imani Christian Academy whose students attended alongside students from Gateway, McKeesport, Pittsburgh Perry Traditional Academy, Pittsburgh Obama, and Winchester Thurston. Prior to Jealous, Judge Timothy Lewis, an Imani board member, gave the students a history of the struggle to desegregate schools.
“Even today, 58 years after Brown vs. Board of Education we are still trying to breathe life into that promise,” Lewis said. “We have come far but this is unfinished work. Some of that work begins with you students and some of that work begins with you teachers.”
Jealous agreed saying school segregation is more present then ever with inequities in achievement and discipline between White and minority students.
“Our schools are rapidly re-segregating. More than 80 percent of what we call an achievement gap is a resources gap. A large portion of the resources gap is teachers, not having high quality teachers,” Jealous said. “If you’re a Black child, you’re more likely to be punished and be punished harshly. If you feel like its happening at your school, you should have a discussion about that.”
Pittsburgh NAACP President Connie Parker also greeted the students and gave them information on how to become involved in the Pittsburgh Unit. Together with Jealous, the two urged the students to realize the power of their voice.
“Organized people can always beat organized money,” Jealous said. “Rich people can get together and say this is what we want to happen, but you can decide whether or not it happens with your vote.”
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the New Pittsburgh Courier Digital Daily newsletter!
- Black community not to blame for August Wilson Center crisis (13)
- More visits by artists like Beyonce, Jay-Z, needed, says Afro-Cuban filmmaker (2)
- Can the Black community change the face of the music industry? (3)
- Cleveland’s Charles Ramsey—hood or hero? (2)
- Letter To The Editor...Peduto’s been the champion for our community (1)