What a powerful gathering! The first area of focus in the meeting was gun violence - remember Rev. Glenn Grayson and Marsha Grayson who lost their son G to random gun violence a year ago? Rev. Glenn spoke - actually raised the roof with his pain and passion about getting rid of the guns that are floating around the city and are being used to kill primarily young black men. Others spoke with wisdom and fervor about civil rights of immigrants, documented and undocumented, the need for better public transportation, the very significant racial gap in education - there is about a two grade-level gap in national reading and math assessment test scores between black students and white students - unacceptable, and employment issues. Many citizens spoke of trying to find work at a living, family supporting wage - wanting desperately to do work that would enable them to buy food and clothing, and pay for housing for their families. Other spoke of having to wait an hour to catch a bus to take their child to daycare so that they could then go to work, only to have the bus pass them by because it was full.
These pleas were particularly meaningful during this time of increasing recognition of the enormous gap between rich and poor. For example, Fred Smith, founder of Fed Ex, has had an average annual salary of $9.79 million over the last six years, according to Forbes Magazine. His employees average between $15-22 per hour. Thus, Occupy X.
I didn't realize it at first, but the timing of this meeting was critical - the week before the November elections. Many candidates and office-holders were invited to the meeting, and several, but not all came. Highlights included Police Chief Nate Harper's commitment to step up the efforts to track and control guns in the city (hopefully with the Mayor's support - he was not present); School Superintendent Linda Lane's commitment to distribute the budget more equitably between all neighborhood schools, regardless of neighborhood income or racial make-up; and State Rep. Dan Frankel's (D - Squirrel Hill) commitment to advocate with Governor Corbett - who was not present - for more funding for public transportation in the city.
We can vote in many ways - during elections next week, with our dollars in terms of spending locally instead of in support of huge corporations, and with our feet and bodies - stay tuned for information about a rally on November 17th at the Greenfield Bridge - where we will speak up about the need for jobs to support our families and to support the nation, particularly in light of our country's need for strengthening of our crumbling infrastructure.
In the meantime, down the road at F.U.S.E....
Jordan Howard will be hosting a release party for his forthcoming debut mixtape, "the DREAM". The event will take place at the F.U.S.E. Center in East Liberty. Admission is a $5 donation at the door. This $5 donation will allow you to gain access to all of the evening's festivities, and you will receive a CD copy of "the DREAM". Jordan will also be performing 3 tracks from the mixtape that evening. The MC for the evening will be Pittsburgh's own DJ Sally Grace. Hope to see everyone there!