“Love/Hate Relationship for the Pittsburgh Branch NAACP”

by C. Denise Johnson

June 25, 2018

I have a love-hate relationship with the Pittsburgh branch of the N.A.A.C.P.  I love it for its history of accomplishment in the ongoing struggle for equity and human rights.  I hate this branch because it has been late (if the leadership shows up at all) during the twelve years I’ve lived in Pittsburgh.

In regards to the shootings of two young black men, statements have come from elected officials (the governor, Senator Casey, Jake Wheatley, Ed Gainey and Austin… the county executive, the mayor after he removed his foot from his mouth), and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.

Have we seen or heard from the Pittsburgh branch of the N.A.A.C.P.?

Full disclosure: I am a lapsed member of this branch (my bad) because of the lack of leadership and/or organization. I’ve kept an eye open to see how black organizations in Pittsburgh respond the constant assault on our humanity and BOB homicides) in comparison to those of my own hometown via the web and my subscription to the Cincinnati Herald (the black weekly). And yes, I was in Cincinnati during the 2001 riots (and the ones in the late 60s).

Urban Media Today News: Black Political Empowerment Project Outraged by Police Shootings in Pittsburgh

I will never subscribe to the way of thinking the Pittsburgh is more racist than (fill in the blank with any other city); this place is steeped in racism that has seeped into America’s DNA therefore anywhere in the good ol’ USA is quite naturally racist af. Find another troupe.

Cincinnati had gatekeepers locking up the branch. They are the warriors that went through the thick of it before the civil rights and voting rights; they have earned and deserve the just due. That is not a license to burn the new upstarts with the torch; that’s not how you win the relay. You pass the torch to the ones who’ve have caught or matched your strides because you recognize you alone cannot carry the entire marathon on your shoulders. The gatekeepers must teach the young ones how to break through the walls and ceilings to continue the race.

Numbers are numbers; accomplishments affect change. In Cincinnati, they pulled a coup on the branch. They had receipts and called out the current leadership. They held a membership drive to get numbers in the roll before the cutoff date for branch elections. They showed up and showed the leadership out of office. Last I heard they had close to a thousand members on their rolls. No lives lost.

A coalition of organizations discreetly formulated realistic demands to enhance the quality of life for the poor and people of color, leveraging the demands with an economic boycott of Cincinnati by asking out-of-town organizations to the boycott by relocating conventions to other cities.

Urban Media Today News: Pittsburghers Protest Killing of Unarmed Black Teen

And before you go there, this was an organic demonstration that occurred without a black mayor (until the next election cycle).

The only major difference is that Cincinnati had a riot and burned out the leftovers from 1967 and 1968. Pittsburgh has an opportunity to do the same thing without shooting ourselves in the foot by burning our own communities or any other community. How?

Unity by focusing on what is best for all and not just a few. Leadership by gatekeepers stepping aside to show and teach the youngbloods what real leadership is. Strategic Planning by employing critical thinking to create short term and long terms.

And notice that none of the suggestions do NOT include crabs in the barrel, pettiness or pessimism. This is doable; but do you really want to do it or are you just playing.

Email C. Denise Johnson at cdenisejohnson@gmail.com

[DISCLAIMER: The opinion expressed by Ms. Johnson, are solely of the writer and not Urban Media Today or its advertisers]
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  1. Could you cite your pictures please? It would be really helpful if you gave credit to the people who took those pictures.



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