Category: Metro Written by C. Denise Johnson
CHEO TYEHIMBA TAYLOR
Complaints about the depiction of Black males in media is nothing new, it just continuous. Just listen to the hub-bub about Tyler the Creator’s Mountain Dew commercial. Instead of preaching to the choir, a group of talented Africans from across the country (and in Pittsburgh) have been confronting the issues with actions and images.
The GAME CHANGERS PROJECT is a national media fellowship program for emerging Black filmmakers in partnership with community-based organizations dedicated to improving outcomes for Black males.
The purpose of the fellowship is to catalyze "activist storytellers" across the nation who will regularly shoot, edit, and produce 4-minute "micro-documentaries" about Black men (and other underrepresented groups) in America who are "changing the game" in various areas such as education, justice, wellness, entrepreneurship, fatherhood, gender equity, etc. Fellows produce short films on the work of unheralded community heroes, social justice advocates, ex-offenders, innovators, politicians, thought leaders, celebrities, professional athletes, and individuals working to improve outcomes for African- American men and boys.
Pittsburgh’s 2012 fellows have been game changers all along. Some are familiar (Chris Ivey, “East of Liberty” and activist/rapper Jasiri X, “What if the Tea Party was Black?”), others not as well known: Haji Muya, a recent graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh who’s work includes a short piece on the Gators youth football program; and James Robinson, a CCAC graduate with who created a web-series about the African American Music Institute’s Boys’ Choir.
The Game Changers Project was sparked by a 1997 interview with the late legendary photographer Gordon Parks by GCP founder Cheo Tyehimba Taylor, who at the time was writing for VIBE magazine. Parks shared a comparison of guns and cameras.
Taylors recounts his “aha moment: "’look, you have a .45 automatic there on your lap," said Parks. “I have a 35mm camera on mine. I think my weapon is just as powerful as yours if used right.’"
“For Parks, his camera was the ultimate ‘choice of weapons’ and he used it both to make beautiful pictures and to fight ignorance and intolerance,” says Taylor, who heads a consultancy, Forward Ever Media.
“Years later, I asked myself what would it take to re-imagine stories about misunderstood segments of society –Black men for example – and to find talented and determined filmmakers who could use their cameras to tell authentic stories that shift perceptions and help to change lives?” said Taylor. “Could their stories inspire and transform societal stereotypes? If we could produce a compelling web series of high quality, digital short films that captured the complex journeys of community change makers, who would most benefit?”
With the support of generous funders, including The Heinz Endowments, The Game Changers Project was launched in 2010 as a part of the 2025 Campaign for Black Men and Boys. It offers an alternative to the dominant, often stereotypical, narrative about Black men in mainstream media and has grown to include eight cities: Chicago, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, New York City, Los Angeles, and Oakland. Pittsburgh was added in 2012.
During a three-month fellowship, Game Changer fellows are "embedded" within local community-based organizations and produce short films to advocate the organization's mission.
According to local GCP manager, Desiree Davis Lee, the application is open to Black men (only in Pittsburgh, due to its funding provided by The Heinz Endowments African American Men and Boys Initiative - other cities allow Black women) between the ages of 18-35.
“For the class of 2013, we're looking for a cadre of serious filmmakers with a proven track-record of producing stories for social change,” says Davis Lee.
Although WQED-TV broadcast a segment on the project earlier in the year, its official debut to the community takes place on Saturday, May 11 at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theatre from 3-9 p.m. It includes youth media workshops, a reception with GCP filmmakers, a screening of “We Got Next,” an inspiring multi-part documentary film about unsung community heroes, and “We Changed the Game, a new music video, followed by a town hall discussion about what it takes to improve social outcomes for Black males in Pittsburgh. Cheo Tyehimba Taylor will be in attendance.
For more information call Desiree Davis Lee at 412-606-2321 or www.GameChangersProject.org or http://kelly-strayhorn.org.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 10:12
Category: Metro Written by Associated Press
'WORK OF ART'--Superintendent Linda Lane stands beside valuable piece of art. (Photo/Pittsburgh Public Schools)
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A painting that Pittsburgh Public Schools officials lost for 80 years has brought $750,000 in found money to the cash-strapped school district.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 14:43
Category: Metro Written by Christian Morrow - Courier Staff Writer
MAKING THEIR CASE—Pittsburgh Mayoral hopefuls, left to right, Bill Peduto, Jack Wagner and Jake Wheatley, respond to questions at the African American Chamber of Commerce candidate forum. (Photo by J.L. Martello)
Aside from the fact that as of the scheduled start time for the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania Mayoral Forum, only one of the four Democratic Primary contenders, Pittsburgh Councilman Bill Peduto, had arrived, there were no real startling surprises.
Republican candidate Josh Wander did attend, and was on time, but did not participate, saying he will wait to debate the winner of the Democratic race.
Chamber President and CEO Doris Carson Williams was relieved to see state Rep. Jake Wheatley, arrive just as Peduto prepared to make his opening remarks, former Auditor General Jack Wagner walked in a few moments later. She thanked the crowd of about 75 for their patience and sponsor Comcast before turning things over to moderator Rod Doss, editor and publisher of the New Pittsburgh Courier.
When asked what they had done and would do to improve conditions for African-American businesses, Wagner said he would work to make sure the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission actually monitored minority contracting, Peduto said he’d authored living wage legislation and responsible banking legislation that he said would help Blacks. He wants to create a small business office and break up contracts into pieces small that Black-owned businesses can compete for.
Wheatley shook his head and said, “I’m wondering why were having this same conversation, when it’s the same one we were having when I came here in 1997. We need a new process based on what you know, not who you know.”
Asked what they would do if allegations made in an American Civil Liberties Union law suit—that Pittsburgh Bureau of Police personnel are actively removing Black applicants from the police academy candidate pool—are true, Peduto said he would professionalize the department.
“It isn’t rocket science,” he said. “There is discrimination and I’ll work on that.”
Wagner said that he would better prepare candidates to pass the tests and would recruit more from the military.
Wheatley was the only one who addressed the criminality issue.
“If that is going on, we have anti-discrimination laws on the books. Those people will be brought to justice,” he said. “As mayor I will make that call.”
When asked about charges in a TV ad that he had voted against funding a senior housing development in Homewood and against earmarking half the parking taxes on the old Civic Arena site for the Hill District, Peduto admitted the charges were accurate.
“I voted against the first one because people asked for a public hearing and didn’t get one,” he said. “And Danny’s parking bill ran counter to the efforts of Carl Redwood’s ‘dollar per car’ proposal.”
He also repeated that the most significant thing he’d done for African-Americans in his district was renovating Mellon Park.
Asked about suing the city’s largest employer for more taxes, Peduto objected to the arbitrary nature of the challenge to UPMC’s nonprofit status.
“You can’t selectively punish one entity,” he said. “I suspect UPMC will prevail for that reason.”
Wagner said the city has the right to challenge.
“Profitable nonprofits need to pay more. It’s been estimated that in UPMC’s case it should be about $20 million a year,” he said. “That would do a lot for the city.”
All three candidates again said education and employment initiatives are the best way to eliminate the violence and drugs in the city’s poor and Black neighborhoods. And all three agreed that the city’s long-term, no-bid professional service contracts have to be reopened and publicly bid.
“No bid contracts are anti-American,” said Wagner. “It’s prime for political mischief.”
Wheatley said all contracts would be openly bid if he were elected.
Every contract will have minority and women participation,” he said. “And I will enforce that.”
Peduto said he’s already written legislation to eliminate no-bid contracts, but the language needs to change.
“We need ‘no solo bid’ legislation to keep these things from just being renewed year after year,” he said. “It’s pay-to-play on Grant Street. I’ve been lucky to not have needed that kind of support.”
The Primary Election is May 21.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 10:40
Category: Metro Written by Ashley N. Johnson - Courier Staff Writer
NOT ANOTHER DEADLY SUMMER!
With 28 homicides in Allegheny County, 22 of them being Black individuals, we have already passed the numbers this time last year, which was 25 homicides, 18 of them Black individuals.
With numbers like this, it is already safe to say that we are on target for a deadlier year. With summer just around the corner, we know that as the temperatures rise; so do the homicide numbers and the shooting incidents.
We, as a community, cannot tolerate a deadly summer. We need to find activities for the children, summer camps, summer jobs, anything productive. Bad things can happen when young people get bored.
And we also need to keep an eye out for things happening in our communities. If you see something suspicious or that you know isn’t right, don’t just sit there and wait for someone else to report it. We cannot expect law enforcement to be everywhere. How will they know, if we, the community, don’t tell them.
We need to come together. United we stand, divided our communities will continue to fall.
As part of its ongoing effort to heighten awareness about the effects of murder in Black communities, the New Pittsburgh Courier will compile a list of homicides in the County each month. It is our hope that as the list of victims grows, so will a true understanding of how these lost lives effect the mental health, economic well-being and self-images of the region’s Black neighborhoods.
Out of the 28 murders, thus far, in 2013—22 were Black and 18 were Black men.
APRIL HOMICIDES (8)
APRIL 2—Dwan Jones, a 41-year-old Black male from Mount Oliver, died after being struck by a car in February at the intersection of Frankstown and Paulson Avenues. He allegedly was hit by the mother of his three children, Damona Anderson, after they had gotten into an argument. Anderson reportedly hit and drove over Jones and then took money from his pocket. Jones was taken to a local hospital, where he died a month later. Anderson is charged with homicide, aggravated assault and robbery. She is awaiting her trial.
APRIL 6—Tyrone Milton, a 50-year-old Black male from Braddock, was fatally shot in the head during a confrontation between two men at Deb’s Place, a bar in Miller Avenue in Rankin. Milton reportedly was not involved in the confrontation. He was taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, where he later died. An arrest warrant has been issued for Darryl Reaves. He is charged with homicide, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and weapons violations. He is still at large.
APRIL 10—Monica Proviano, a 28-year-old Black woman from Wilkinsburg, was found shot to death on Trenton Avenue in Wilkinsburg. She allegedly had been robbed by two men when she answered a call for a jitney. The two men had reportedly planned the incident. She was robbed, shot and then her vehicle was taken. Timothy Brock Jr. and William McGraw are charged with homicide, conspiracy, robbery and robbery of a vehicle. They are awaiting their trials.
APRIL 10—Leon Wilson, a 42-year-old Black male from Homewood, was found with multiple shots to the chest, arm and head in an upstairs hallway of a home at 586 Oakwood St., in Homewood. Wilson was allegedly shot after a domestic dispute with his fiancée. His fiancée had called her daughter, who also brought her boyfriend, a Pennsylvania State Constable. Wilson was allegedly packing a bag when he fired shots at his fiancée’s son, hitting him in the shoulder. The constable ordered him to drop the weapon; Wilson allegedly fired another shot and the constable then fired multiple shots. The constable’s name was not released. No one has been charged; the investigation is ongoing.
APRIL 11—Loretta Jackson, a 65-year-old Black female from West Mifflin, was found with multiple gunshot wounds in her Patton Street home in West Mifflin. Authorities found her when they answered a call of an alarm being activated and saw a forced entry when they arrived. No one has been charged; the investigation is ongoing.
APRIL 13—Dearto Rankin, a 39-year-old Black male from Verona, was found fatally shot in the 600 block of Linden Avenue in East Pittsburgh. He was found when authorities were answering a call about a disturbance involving gunshots. According to reports, Rankin and his brother, Andre Rankin, were arguing when the gun went off. Andre Rankin is charged with homicide. He is awaiting his trial.
APRIL 27—Andrew Moore, a 31-year-old White male from Venetia, was shot in the head when he entered Armen’s House of Music on Library Road, in Bethel Park, and attacked the owners. He reportedly entered the store, left, then returned again and assaulted one of the storeowners with a club. Her husband reportedly then shot Moore. No one has been charged; the investigation is ongoing.
APRIL 28—Brandon Stokes, a 21-year-old Black male from Penn Hills, died of a gunshot wound to the chest at 8619 Westwood Rd., in Penn Hills, when a gun was fired while another man was removing money from his pocket. The bullet hit another man in the abdomen and then hit Stokes in the chest. He was taken to UPMC Shadyside Hospital; where he later died. Marijuana was reportedly involved. Ronald Riviere has been charged with homicide.
JANUARY HOMICIDES (6)
JAN. 1—Ka’Sandra Wade, a 33-year-old Black female from Larimer, was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds in her Lowell Street home when authorities visited her residence after receiving concerns from relatives. Wade was killed by her boyfriend, Anthony Brown, one day after authorities, who had answered a 9-1-1 call she placed, left without investigating the call when Brown came to the window and told them everything was okay. Brown later shot himself after a brief police standoff.
JAN. 10—Deondre Pace, a 16-year-old Black male from Beltzhoover, was found laying on the sidewalk with multiple shots to the torso in front of Sheffield Funeral Home near Beltzhoover Avenue and Climax Street, in Beltzhoover. He had been leaving a convenience store near his home, when two men approached him and opened fire. Pace was taken to UPMC Mercy Hospital, where he later died. Ashanti Montgomery has been charged with criminal homicide, firearms not carried without a license and criminal conspiracy.
JAN. 11—Jayemond Bailey, a 34-year-old Black male from McKeesport, was shot to death at Street Stars bar, on Sixth Avenue in McKeesport. No one has been charged; the investigation is ongoing.
JAN. 13—Lou Auer, a 37-year-old White male from East Liberty, was found dead with a gunshot wound to the torso outside of 322 N. Negley Ave., in East Liberty. He was pronounced dead at the scene. No one has been charged; the investigation is ongoing.
JAN. 23—Michael Andrews, a 27-year-old Black male from East Hills, was found fatally shot during an alleged home invasion in the 5300 block of Brown Way in Garfield. A masked man knocked on the door of the home that was occupied by two men. When one of the males answered the door, he was shot in the face. After hearing the shot, the other male in the residence got a gun and exchanged shots with the masked man. Andrews was found in front of the home and was taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, where he later died. The other men were wounded. Authorities did not clarify if Andrews lived at the house or was the intruder. The investigation is ongoing.
JAN. 28—Isaiah Dent, a 61-year-old Black male from McKees Rocks, was found beaten to death in the bathroom of his Hays Manor apartment on Locust Street in McKees Rocks. Sean Overton has been charged with criminal homicide, robbery and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. He is awaiting trial.
FEBRUARY HOMICIDES (5)
FEB. 4—Maurice Bruce, a 32-year-old Black male from Pittsburgh, was found shot to death in the bushes near the intersection of Hamilton Avenue and Sterrett Street, in Homewood, by an individual walking by. He was reportedly shot after leaving a local bar earlier in the day and had been in the bushes for hours. No one has been charged; the investigation is ongoing.
FEB. 19—Constance Johnston, a 76-year-old White female from Richland Township, was stabbed to death from behind by her grandson as she sat, eating breakfast, in the kitchen of her Richland Township home in the 3900 block of Gibson Road, with her husband. Her grandson, Levi Daniel Starver, allegedly stabbed her after the archangel Michael told him to kill her while he was on the computer. Starver has been charged with criminal homicide.
FEB. 23—Brian Wright Jr., a 26-year-old Black male from Homewood, was found with a gunshot wound to the chest at the intersection of Tangent Way and Enterprise Street in Larimer. Wright was pronounced dead at the scene. No one has been charged; the investigation is ongoing.
FEB. 24—Andre Broadie, a 25-year-old Black male from Penn Hills, was shot in the head inside a home in the 5100 block of Columbo Street in Garfield when he and another male entered the home of a person they knew. It has been reported that Broadie was thought to be an intruder. Investigators are calling it a case of mistaken identity. It is unknown if charges will be filed. The investigation is ongoing.
FEB. 28—Tiona Jackson, a 28-year-old Black female from the Hill District, was shot to death while leaving Red’s Ringside Café near the intersection of East Warrington and Vincent Street in Beltzhoover. A male was also injured. Jackson was pronounced dead at the scene. No one has been charged; the investigation is ongoing.
MARCH HOMICIDES (9)
MARCH 3—John Sumpter, a 32-year-old Black male of Wilkinsburg, was fatally shot multiple times while sitting in his vehicle outside of Club Pink, a Munhall Strip Club in the 900 block of East Eighth Avenue, after a fight earlier that evening. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Paul Barrone is charged with homicide and is awaiting trial.
MARCH 6—Maurice Penny, a 24-year-old Black male from McKees Rocks, was found dead with multiple shots when a shootout erupted in the hallway of an apartment building in the 500 block of Penn Avenue in Friendship. Penny was a rapper also known as “Big Penny.” No one has been charged; the investigation is ongoing.
MARCH 11—James Adams, a 29-year-old White male from Imperial, was fatally shot in the head while inside the Fort Pitt Inn bar in North Fayette after a man, who was also inside, reportedly became angry after a text message conversation with his girlfriend, walked out and came back in with three handguns. David Mazzocco is charged with homicide, attempted homicide, two counts of aggravated assault, 11 counts of reckless endangerment and weapons violations. He is awaiting trial.
MARCH 19—Lora Hoffman, a 31-year-old White female from Sheraden, was allegedly stabbed to death by her brother in her Sheraden home in the 3600 block of Allendale Circle when they were allegedly arguing over him lying on the couch while the family was watching television. He reportedly walked into the kitchen, grabbed a knife and returned stabbing her multiple times in the head, face and neck. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Chris Hoffman is charged with homicide and is awaiting trial.
MARCH 26—Terrance Moore, a 34-year-old Black male from Clairton, died hours after being shot in his car during a gunfight outside a home on Halcomb Avenue. He was taken to Allegheny General Hospital, where he later died. Others were also injured. No one has been charged; the investigation is ongoing.
MARCH 28—Bernadette Scholl, a 74-year-old White female from Munhall, died from injuries she sustained when she was allegedly shot by her son, Anthony Scholl, in her Munhall home on Longfellow Drive. She was found when officers entered her home after a standoff with her son. Anthony Scholl is charged with homicide and weapons violations. He is awaiting trial.
MARCH 29—Kellcy Thomas, an 18-year-old Black male from McKeesport, was found with gunshot wounds to the trunk in the 1400 block of Evans Avenue. He had been taken to UPMC McKeesport, where he later died. No one has been charged; the investigation is ongoing.
MARCH 30—Steven Lee Jr., a 21-year-old Black male from McKees Rocks, was fatally shot aboard a “party bus” near Chartiers Street in Sheraden after a fight reportedly broke out. He was taken to Allegheny General Hospital, where he later died. A warrant has been issued for Michael Lyons on charges of criminal homicide and carrying an unlicensed firearm. He is still at large.
MARCH 30—Mark Rucker, a 21-year-old Black male from Monroeville, was found shot to death in the stairwell of a building in the Cambridge Square housing complex. He was allegedly shot in the chest and died at the scene after another man accused Rucker of sleeping with his girlfriend. Jamey McKee has been charged with homicide
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 15:46
Category: Metro Written by Kathleen Yocum
If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. That remains state Rep. Jake Wheatley’s overarching theme in his race to become Pittsburgh’s next mayor.
His front-running opponents, city Councilman Bill Peduto and former Councilman, state Senator and Auditor General Jack Wagner, he will tell you have a record of maintaining the status quo. But, he will also tell you that enough voters appear disenchanted enough with business as usual to give him the support he needs to pull off the Primary Election upset on May 21.
“My campaign won’t be crippled by the old-style politics of telling segments of the public how to vote. I’m not running just to run, just to be a Black face. Win, lose or draw, all the people we talked to before getting in were ready for it,” he told the New Pittsburgh Courier editorial board April 26. “And with polls saying 48 percent of the voters are still undecided, I think the city is ready for change.”
One of the changes he would like to employ here is an idea called social impact bonding. It could simultaneously address educational shortcoming and unemployment, especially in some Black communities where drop-out rates exceed 50 percent and unemployment is running three times the average.
“We’re the only campaign talking about this. Get engineers and business people from companies like Google in the classrooms. Teach the kids what they need to know to get a job,” he said. “Tell our business leaders that if they invest in improving job skills, we’ll pay you back based on the percentage of employment improved.”
Wheatley said the city can’t do everything, and can’t afford to. But that means it could provide opportunities for small businesses and community nonprofits to do so, and thereby further improve the employment climate.
“Open up government services and contract with small businesses and nonprofits,” he said. “The mayor shouldn’t be in the social service business. But he should support and be a cheerleader for those organizations that do it better.”
Wheatley wants to open up the police force too, not just to African-American applicants, but to the community. He said the bureau can help reduce tensions by being more involved with neighborhood youth.
“I’d like to see a police athletic league, working with kids,” he said. “It would give the community a better image of the police and vice versa, and it would help with recruiting.”
Wheatley agrees that the city needs to increase its efforts to recruit from the military so it can attract more minority and women candidates. He would also negotiate changes with the union that could improve actual minority hiring and retention.
Though he would keep the requirement that applicants have 60 hours of college credit, he would extend the time they have to complete the schooling.
“There has to be a cultural change in the bureau. Assignments and promotions can’t be based on popularity,” he said. “I told the (Fraternal Order of Police) I want negotiations on pensions and work rules. And I will insist on merit-based promotions. In exchange, I would waive residency requirements.”
Wheatley said his campaign is the only one that presents a vision and the best plan to include every city neighborhood. And he is not as big a long-shot some claim.
“I want your vote, I need your vote. But I’m not just a Black candidate. Like Speaker (K. Leroy) Irvis reminded me years ago, I represent all the people and I have a lot of White support,” he said. “So, if 20,000 African-Americans vote and I get 60 percent of that, that’s huge in a three-way race.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 10:37
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