Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!
“Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.” Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
For centuries, it has been known that the initial American promise of democracy was a promise for only White men. Since 1776, all others have fought to secure their “unalienable rights.” With Blacks still having failed to do so, one is reminded of Frederick Douglass’ July 5, 1852 speech (“The Fourth of July Is Yours, Not Mine”) in which he poignantly put the matter, i.e., “I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included with the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence day only reveals the immeasurable distance between us.”
Notwithstanding centuries of evidence supporting Douglass’ above statement as well as ignoring the ones by Lorde, some Blacks have misguidedly continued efforts to “educate” Whites about racism, with the hope that they will “do the right thing.” For example, after Mr. George Floyd was murdered, many “diversity and inclusion” experts with good intentions, as well as “carpetbaggers” profiteering from oppression, led White leaders in self-flagellations that were supposed to help them understand racial oppression. Following their anti-racist floggings and receiving pathos-filled testimonials regarding race-based micro-aggressions, White leaders were supposed to emerge as if they had undergone a “Nicodemus,” “Paul,” or “John Newton” type radical conversion experience and, in turn, attack systemic racism with “all deliberate speed.”
By Memorial Day 2021, the new White anti-racist converts should have been so effective that Black folks would no longer be “sick and tired of being sick and tired” of their oppressed conditions. Instead, systemic racism rages on as evidenced by things such as the following.
• The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act should have been passed before Memorial Day 2021, but it is uncertain that any version of the Bill will ever pass. Following the guilty verdict in the trial related to Mr. Floyd, in an ongoing fashion, Blacks continued to die from police violence and we don’t know the truth of what transpired until the tapes are released/leaked.
• Urban war zones are accumulating 2021 record setting murder statistics for Blacks.
• Equity and social justice received a significant blow when the University of North Carolina recently denied tenure for an internationally acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize Winning, Black woman (Nikole Hannah-Jones).
• City after city declared racism to be a public health issue but, to date, there is no response to the racism pandemic that compares with the efforts to address the Coronavirus Pandemic.
• Historically White colleges and universities pledged to increase their admissions of Black students, but the Historically Black Colleges and Universities are the ones with record-setting paces for 2021 Black student admits.
• The most disadvantaged Black children have lost much more than a year of school and there is no plan to address this tragedy.
• During the Coronavirus pandemic, the wealthiest White males and their benefactors did extremely well financially, but the gaps continue to widen for every significant factor related to Black folks’ well-being.
The mounting evidence of continued systemic racism is proof that Audre Lorde was correct when she advised Blacks and other oppressed people to stop attempting to educate their oppressors and, instead, focus on redefining themselves and “devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.” Putting her advice “where the goats can get it” for example, it is a foolish waste of time to try convincing P45 that he lost the presidential election instead of wisely focusing on efforts that will ensure that he never holds public office again. Therefore, with Lorde’s advice in mind, the following type of agenda is offered to Blacks.
1. Get vaccinated and continually provide your bodies with the best physical, emotional, spiritual and mental care.
2. Provide unconditional love for Black children.
3. Focus on aiding Black children achieving academically at the highest levels from the cradle to college.
4. Develop Black wealth with initiatives ranging from regular savings to home ownership and entrepreneurship. Support existing and build new Black businesses.
5. If you haven’t done so, register yourself and others to vote as well as in fact vote.
6. Demand more from elected officials in terms of advancing equity and social justice.
7. Be an active member of an organization devoted to equity and social justice.
8. Never participate in “crabs in the barrel” activities. Instead, understand that an individual’s progress is measured by how far their family has gone.
9. Monthly, read a piece of classic Black literature produced by people such as Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Octavia Butler, W.E.B. DuBois, Ralph Ellison, Frantz Fanon, Zora N. Hurston, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Carter G. Woodson, and Malcolm X.
10. Do not permit the oppressor to provide you with honorifics that “leave your head looking in the wrong direction.”
11. Form coalitions with others who are focused on the realization of equity and social justice.
Never forget that, since 1776, the “White powers that be” have known the systemic abuse they heaped upon Blacks. For centuries, Blacks have protested the abuse. Therefore, no more time should be wasted explaining racism to Whites, unless it is done for at least a six-figure daily fee and most of that fee is reinvested in efforts related to Blacks “devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.”
If there is indeed a need to further educate Whites regarding America’s failures, then let’s leave that up to folks such as President Joseph Biden who said, “America was an idea… We hold these truths to be self-evident…. We’ve never lived up to it… And I just think we have to be more honest. Let our kids know, as we raise them, what actually did happen. Acknowledge our mistakes so we don’t repeat them.”
Jack L. Daniel
Co-founder, Freed Panther Society
Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban Media
Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
June 12, 2021
June 15, 2021... The Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh initiative – a joint program of The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments – will receive $2 million in the latest round of grants by novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The funding was announced today in her blog post.
In a joint statement, Lisa Schroeder, president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation and Grant Oliphant, president of The Heinz Endowments, said: “This is terrific news and is a wonderful recognition of the canon of Black cultural creativity in Pittsburgh.
“In uplifting this program that for more than a decade has supported artists rooted in the Black experience, this generous grant underscores an invaluable part of Pittsburgh’s rich cultural heritage. We are grateful to MacKenzie Scott for her award that celebrates the organizations and individuals who have received funding from our program, and who continue to contribute to artistic excellence in our community.
“We are extremely proud of the success of our joint Advancing Black Arts initiative, and deeply thankful for this support.”
Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh is among 286 organizations receiving a total of $2.74 billion in grants from Ms. Scott. In announcing the funding, she said that she and her husband chose high-impact organizations in areas and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.
In her blog post, Ms. Scott stated: “Arts and cultural institutions can strengthen communities by transforming spaces, fostering empathy, reflecting community identity, advancing economic mobility, improving academic outcomes, lowering crime rates, and improving mental health, so we evaluated smaller arts organizations creating these benefits with artists and audiences from culturally rich regions and identity groups that donors often overlook.”
The Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh program is managed and led by Shaunda McDill, Program Officer, Arts and Culture at the Endowments, and Celeste Smith, Senior Program Officer, Arts and Culture at The Pittsburgh Foundation.
“We are grateful for this generous support, and deeply appreciative for the acknowledgement of the critical creative through line that binds artists, entrepreneurs, families and communities in this work,” the two women said in a joint statement.
“The rich contributions that Pittsburgh’s Black creatives have made to our city’s culture have always reflected the expressions, talents and imaginations of people from the African Diaspora,” said Ms. McDill and Ms. Smith. “You will find it emanating from our art, our food, and our attitude. The Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh program is where access and opportunity connect with Pittsburgh artists who are thriving in their creative process, both as a means and as a way of life.”
The Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh initiative was launched in 2010 and since then has awarded 356 grants totaling $6.1 million to support Black artists, increase the sustainability of cultural organizations that focus on Black arts, expand community awareness and support efforts to close the racial divide within the larger arts sector.
Grants from the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh program may support individual artists, organizations and performance venues in the southwest Pennsylvania region, as well as national entities that help connect Pittsburgh-based artists with Black artists and arts programming around the United States.
In recent years, grants have ranged from $35,000 in operating support to The Hill Dance Academy Theatre to $15,000 grants for individual Black artists including Mikael Owunna, Alisha Wormsley, and Akmed Khalifa. Overall, Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh aims to elevate regionally based Black artists, their artwork and the overall creative field.
Source: The Pittsburgh Foundation
Shaunda McDill, Program Officer, Arts and Culture at the Endowments.
Professor Alaina E. Roberts’ new book, “I’ve Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land,” explores Reconstruction, identity and race through narrative threads that follow her family’s and American history.
“I tell this story, a unification of Black, Native and white narratives, not only as a historian but also as a descendant of all four peoples: white settlers, Indian freedpeople, African Americans from the United States and Native members of tribal nations. On the one hand, it fills me with pride to think of the resilience of my Chickasaw and Choctaw forebears, who took a forced passage to a new land and turned it into an opportunity to create politically strategic and economically successful nations. And I feel honored to possess the rare legacy of historical Black landownership on the Roberts side of my family,” she writes in the book’s introduction.
As one might imagine, that land ownership was fraught. After their emancipation, her father’s family established Robertsville, a mixed-race community of Black and Native people in the southern Oklahoma region that would later become the city of Ardmore. The family had an informal agreement with their Native neighbors that they could travel freely in the area. There, they put down roots and built a church, but they could not escape racial violence.
“The turmoil in Ardmore, too small to be even a footnote in Oklahoma history, and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre which followed not long after, along with changes in the economic and political opportunities available to Black and Native peoples during this period, were signals that times in this corner of the West had changed drastically for the worse,” Roberts writes.
Ahead of the centennial anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, Pittwire offers this book excerpt, which depicts the lead up to and aftermath of that brutal event.
Although the KKK was active in the West and served as a living, breathing representation of the exportation of white southern racism to Indian Territory, Oklahoma escaped the Red Summer of 1919 (a year that saw lynchings and mass destructions of Black property by whites in places like Chicago, Atlanta, Omaha and Montgomery) without a large incident of racial violence.
But as the 20th century went on, Oklahoma became a hotbed of white racial resentment, primarily revolving around Black and Indian economic gains through natural resources found on their land allotments. In 1921, the overlapping claims made to Oklahoma land by whites, Indians and people of African descent were a powder keg that exploded in a brutal episode of mass racial terrorism in Tulsa.
First an Osage hunting ground and then a Creek town, pre-Civil War Tulsa’s production of petroleum had been a source of annoyance for Native settlers, seeping into water holes and farmlands. But once the technology for the exploitation of the resource was created, Tulsa became a place where oil speculators bought large pieces of land from Creek citizens, and the population grew exponentially, from a town of less than 1,000 to a city of 35,000 after the First World War. Businesses owned by whites, people of African descent and Native Americans supplied oil workers with mining supplies, laborers and scientists. A portion of Tulsa defined by its all-Black-owned businesses, called the Greenwood District, became known colloquially as “Black Wall Street” because of the financial success of the rooming houses, movie theater, grocery stores, auto repair shop and dentists’ offices that lined its avenues. It was these very accomplishments that had long provoked the envy of whites in the community. These white settlers retaliated using the pretext of an African American man’s purported assault of a white woman—a common excuse for violence—to massacre over a hundred Black women and men.
On May 30, 1921, an African American teenager named Dick Rowland had an interaction of some kind with a white teenage elevator operator, leading the operator to scream. Although it is doubtful that the elevator operator, Sarah Page, was sexually assaulted, this was the story that quickly spread across Tulsa, making its way into the next day’s afternoon newspaper.
On May 31, whites reacted, rousing friends and family members to violence under the cover of avenging white femininity; Black Tulsans hurried to protect their property and the now-jailed Dick Rowland. This rush to the jail was seen as an “attack” by whites, and, really, as an unacceptable assertion by African Americans of their rights. In return, Tulsa whites razed a thousand different Black homes and businesses, all the while murdering women, men and children indiscriminately; they shot off their guns excitedly, whooping as if at a carnival or another venue of entertainment.
As Black people ran about, fleeing fires, shootings and beatings by civilians, policemen and national guardsmen alike, they stumbled onto atrocious acts of violence. B.C. Franklin described observing a woman running down the street in a hail of bullets searching for her lost toddler; she survived to tell the tale. A group of three Black men were not so lucky; as they tried to cross the street, all three were cut down by over a dozen bullets.
Said B.C. of the oldest victim, “He dropped [a trunk he was holding] and shrieked and fell sprawling upon the hard paved street. Blood gushed from every wound and ran down the street. I turned my head from the scene.” B.C. and other witnesses also saw buildings catching fire from the top, betraying the use of airplanes to rain down fiery ruin from above, showing the power and influence possessed by whites involved in this organized terrorism. B.C. barely escaped with his life.
By June 1, the white mob had destroyed millions of dollars in property, the majority of which would never be fully recovered, and killed an estimated 100 to 300 African Americans. Many survivors were left homeless, and the city and various insurance companies denied their property claims, leaving them with no restitution.
In the aftermath, postcards depicting the carnage circulated in the white community, celebrating the desolation wrought by white supremacy and settler colonialism.
The word ‘riot,’ used to describe many historical incidents like that in Tulsa, suggests that Blacks and whites were equally involved in the destruction and belies the fact that this was a very deliberate targeting of black success.
Biased accounts of the violence emerged almost immediately. The June 5 edition of The New York Times featured an article about the African Blood Brotherhood, a Tulsa organization dedicated to Black empowerment and self-defense. Perhaps purposely choosing an organization known for their assertive stance in response to white violence, the Times asked why the group “did not encourage its members to resort to the courts to correct any grievances.” Executive head of the brotherhood Cyril V. Briggs responded, “The negro has long lost faith in the ‘justice of the white man toward the negro.’”
The June 2 edition of [Arkansas’] Prescott Daily News reported that 85 were dead after a race riot in “the negro quarter.” While the article mentioned that “many negroes had been burned to death in their homes” and that “negro refugees [had] fled into the country surrounding Tulsa [after] being attacked by armed posses (sic) of whites,” the paper still blamed the “riot” on the “200 armed negroes [who] stormed the court house to release Dick Rowland”; the story’s subtitle read, “Troops Restore Quiet After Lurid Race Clashes—Black Agitators Are Blamed for Disastrous Riots.” The paper failed to clarify that it was, in fact, the entity blaming African Americans.
Ever resilient, Black Tulsa residents rebuilt, though the city attempted to stifle them by imposing new laws that required buildings to be taller and made of fireproof materials. After lawyers including B.C. Franklin succeeded in getting this law struck down, nearly 800 new structures were erected, and in 1925 the district’s rebirth was christened when it hosted the annual National Negro Business League conference. But the capital required to rebuild after incidences of property destruction and the emotional and social trauma passed down from incidences of racial terror are two major causes, often forgotten by the mainstream media, of the stunted economic development of so many Black communities. The money, lives and opportunities that were lost can never be regained, and this is one way in which the settler colonial state impairs nonwhite peoples, making them unable to compete with white settlers on an even playing field.
This 1921 event became known as the Tulsa Race Riot. The word “riot,” used to describe many historical incidents like that in Tulsa, suggests that Blacks and whites were equally involved in the destruction and belies the fact that this was a very deliberate targeting of black success—thus, I follow recent historians and Tulsa residents in referring to it as a massacre rather than a riot.
The Tulsa Race Massacre served as the destruction of not only (literal) Black wealth but also the Oklahoma Black memory of self-sufficiency, economic success and racial coalition. The massacre was not taught in Oklahoma schools, nor was the awe-inspiring reality of Black Wall Street. This was not the first nor the last act of racial violence by whites against Black women and men living in the former space of Indian Territory. But as the largest destruction of Black wealth in the region (and, according to economic historians, in the country) and the deadliest in American history, the Tulsa Race Massacre represents the end of the largest representation of what Blacks were able to build economically and socially within Native spaces and under tribal jurisdiction within their extended Reconstruction. Indian freedpeople’s allotments, hard won as a result of a lifetime of enslavement but also through participation in the settler colonial process, provided them with economic autonomy and, for some, incredible wealth through natural resources. Angry that landownership stymied some of the effects of Jim Crow, whites decimated the businesses, homes and dreams of Black people in the Greenwood District of Tulsa.
Though it may be a cliché, it truly was through blood, sweat and tears that the Roberts family carved out a homestead for themselves after emancipation. This space was a rare piece of land owned by a Black family who would maintain possession of it over generations and to this day. It allowed a community to provide itself with food and an infrastructure for institutions, such as a church and a cemetery. It serves as a reminder of Black self-determination, as do the many Black towns sprinkled throughout Oklahoma.
Source: University of Pittsburgh
Professor Alaina E. Roberts’ new book, “I’ve Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land.”
The Richard King Mellon Foundation today announced that it has made a $500,000 gift to help save the former National Negro Opera Company House in Homewood – a once-proud national landmark that has been vacant 50 years and is dangerously close to collapse.
“This property once was the center of Black cultural life in Pittsburgh, and a national artistic destination,” said Foundation Director Sam Reiman. “The National Negro Opera Company – the first permanent African-American opera company in the nation – called it home. And it was a safe house for great musicians, such as Cab Calloway, Lena Horne and Duke Ellington, and for visiting athletes, such as heavyweight champion Joe Louis and our own Roberto Clemente.
“But the property has been vacant for half a century, and now is dangerously close to becoming unsalvageable. The National Trust for Historic Preservation rightly has named it one of the most endangered historic places in the nation. Jonnet Solomon took the first and most important step, buying the property to save it from demolition. But now she needs help – and not just to save it, but to make it special once again, converting it into a self-guided museum, with powerful programming for disadvantaged young artists of today.
“The Foundation is hoping its initial gift will inspire other Pittsburgh community leaders – and leaders across the nation – to support Jonnet in this noble quest. Together, we can save a landmark before it’s too late. We can help young artists today to find a welcoming place again. And we can bolster Homewood’s ongoing efforts to return to its rightful place as a cultural and community hub.”
“This has been a 20-year, life-altering labor of love,” said Solomon, an accountant by profession who purchased the Queen Anne-style house, with the late Miriam White, in 2000. “And I’m more hopeful now than ever that we can preserve this historic house, and make it an artistic hub for the community once again. This gift is the catalyst that will inspire others to do the same.”
The house first rose to national significance in the 1940s, when opera singer Mary Cardwell Dawson rented space there for the National Negro Opera Company. The company disbanded in the 1960s.
Solomon’s vision of saving the property and restoring it to new vital uses requires more than $2 million. Solomon has launched a website to tell the story of the home’s history and future vision, and to raise funds. The story has captivated national attention. But donations have been sparse.
So the Foundation stepped in to get things started.
Grammy and Emmy award winning mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, along with her team and a network of singers, also have been highly instrumental in the attention being given to the National Negro Opera House. “I feel a great obligation to this important monument of American history that has been so long neglected,” she wrote in a fundraising appeal to fellow artists. Graves founded The Denyce Graves Foundation to support projects like this. Raising funds and national awareness for the National Opera House is the foundation’s first philanthropic project.
The Richard King Mellon Foundation’s $500,000 grant will go through Pittsburgh Opera, which is assisting Solomon with the effort and serving as fiscal sponsor for the Foundation’s grant.
“Pittsburgh Opera is working as a key collaborator in developing the artistic programming that will be based in the renovated facility to celebrate the rich operatic history of our region and to fulfill the dream of Mary Cardwell Dawson by providing opportunities for children in Pittsburgh most affected by racial inequalities in education and the arts,” said Christopher Hahn, Pittsburgh Opera’s General Director.
Before the 1960s, when the first Freedom House ambulances hit the streets of Pittsburgh, prehospital medical care was almost nonexistent. Police with no medical training might race a patient to the hospital with no special equipment or care, and many avoided Black neighborhoods altogether.
From 1968-1975, Freedom House provided emergency medical services (EMS) training to individuals in the city’s Hill District, a primarily Black and economically disadvantaged part of the city.
John Moon was a member of Pittsburgh’s Freedom House from 1972 to 1975. "We left a legacy. I want that legacy that Freedom House left to always be remembered." Though he retired in 2010, he’s still working to do just that.
“You get out of this career what you put into it,” Moon recently told the first cohort of Freedom House 2.0, the spiritual sequel to the original program. “You have to have a mind or heart of compassion and empathy for people you’re taking care of. Sometimes, they won’t be the most enjoyable patients, but it’s a very awesome, difference-making responsibility.
The program is just one piece of a long history of revolutionary approaches to prehospital care. See how Pitt people paved the way for modern emergency medicine.
Freedom House 2.0, like its predecessor, is leveraging expertise from the University of Pittsburgh to train first responders from economically disadvantaged communities, many of which have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. Participants receive mentorship and financial support, as well as state-approved emergency medical technician (EMT) certification and community paramedic/health care worker training.
Faculty members from Pitt’s Emergency Medicine program are teaching and providing instructional resources. The training focuses on traditional emergency medical services and on equipping first responders to help address critical, non-emergency psychosocial needs—such as poorly managed chronic medical and behavioral health conditions and a lack of access to resources to address them—that comprise a significant portion of 911 calls.
Successful graduates will be guaranteed an interview with UPMC and other job placement support. They can also use their experience to continue their studies.
“Just to be able to learn more about the body and how it works, to give me the opportunity to be better for my community, going above and saving lives, it’s very inspiring,” said Elijah Sellers, a student in the first cohort of Freedom House 2.0, in an interview conducted by KDKA-TV, a CBS affiliate.
Transforming prehospital care and communities—again
Program leaders said successful graduates will become the future of EMS.
“EMS response solely to 9-1-1 emergencies will soon become a thing of the past. These folks are being trained to become community paramedics, or rather community health practitioners,” said Thomas Platt, associate professor and director of Pitt’s Emergency Medicine program. “These are folks who can now go into homes and do an assessment rather than just take people to hospitals. This in turn can help reduce hospital admissions and readmissions.”
Program leader Kenneth Hickey said Freedom House 2.0 was started as a way to increase diversity and spur workforce development during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During the pandemic, we noticed a great need for first responders and local community advocates,” said Hickey, who is also a program manager for community services at UPMC Health Plan. “So far, it’s been really promising. We couldn’t go without the University of Pittsburgh and its Center for Emergency Medicine for offering the training opportunity. We’re truly trying to build them a pipeline to whatever they (students) want to be in the future.”
Hickey also said program leaders compared social justice issues experienced in 2020 to those experienced by the original Freedom House participants.
“This is one way we can give back to correct social injustice,” he said.
Program leaders and students have also been learning from the past through the mentorships of Moon and Philip Hallen, co-founder of the original Freedom House.
“This program is critical to the people in it and their life path. To the people running the program, it’s a good step in the right direction,” said Hallen, namesake of the Philip Hallen Chair in Community Health and Social Justice. “My hope is that the sustainability and longevity of this program is in place. The people doing the training are committed, but they need the institutional support and funding. This program can be used as a model for other communities.”
Moon said the program carries on the legacy of the original Freedom House, whose emblems can be seen on EMS vehicles today.
“Any mention of Freedom House makes my heart proud, because of all the struggles and tribulations the original Freedom House had to overcome. I want that legacy to always be remembered,” said Moon. “Despite the fact that Freedom House itself was near and dear to my heart, just to see a program such as this makes the students near and dear to my heart also. Programs like this are a crucial step toward diversifying hospital care options. There’s a great need for this program. Without programs like these, underserved communities’ needs would not be met.”
Freedom House 2.0 is grant-funded by Partner4Work, the public workforce investment board for Allegheny County, and builds upon UPMC’s Pathways to Work program to offer low-income individuals meaningful job training and support.
Source: University of Pittsburgh
Kenneth Hickey (center) is leading the charge for Freedom House 2.0.
Avis Williams has always loved to cook and share her culinary talents with friends and family. Now, anyone can enjoy the delicious comfort food she prepares by visiting Hilda’s Soul Food Kitchen in Homestead. The restaurant specializes in Southern hospitality and cooking that will “bring back memories of your grandmother’s kitchen” and “bring the South to Pittsburgh.” Opening the restaurant in July fulfilled a 10-year dream for Williams, who named the restaurant in honor of her mother.
After working in accounting and banking for many years, Williams prayed about making the change, and then “God started opening doors.” Although she previously helped to run a catering business, she had no professional training, so she decided to go back to school to learn how to manage a restaurant. Williams is graduating from CCAC’s Hospitality Operations Management program this year. Through the program, she learned every aspect of restaurant management—from maintaining food in the right order in the refrigerator, to becoming ServSafe certified, which is the industry standard in food safety training and is administered by the U.S. National Restaurant Association.
“CCAC was a tremendous help,” said Williams. “Every class that I took was so beneficial. The whole setup of the program is exactly what someone needs if they’re looking to manage a restaurant.”
Although she was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Williams acquired a love of Southern cooking through her husband and other family members who are from the South. Hilda’s is definitely “filling a niche” by offering daily specials, such as meatloaf and gravy with rice and Southern creamed peas, BBQ ribs with mac ’n cheese and greens, smothered pork chops with two sides, or blackened salmon or chicken tossed salads. Fridays are fish FRYdays with crabcakes, salmon cakes and shrimp étouffée, and every Saturday features a Southern breakfast buffet. Patrons can also sample Southern specialties such as boiled peanuts and pimento cheese.
Customers have responded enthusiastically to the new restaurant, which is currently open for takeout and delivery. The restaurant has limited seating, and Williams plans to offer indoor dining in the future when health concerns about COVID–19 have lessened.
Hilda’s Soul Food Kitchen, located at 514 E. 8th Ave., Homestead, is open Tuesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a Saturday breakfast buffet from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. For more information or to place an order, call 412.462.4220.
Visit ccac.edu to learn more.
Who could have prepared my football teammates and I at Shady Side Academy for the summer of 2020, for me, it is going down in history as one of the most unpredictable, frustrating, upside down you turn me seasons I have ever encountered. Of course, this is due to the COVID-19 pandemic scare which hit our team with such a great force like a lineman tackling a quarterback without much protection.
Let me backup, it was Spring, March 2020 to be exact, and as an eighth grader, I was anxiously trying to get out of middle school, when COVID-19 reared its ugly head. Students were forced out of our daily school routines and rushed into an online learning experience to be located at home for about three months without much notice or preparation. The online experience was confusing and a little strange in the beginning, it did not feel normal to not be around my classmates, but once I got my ZOOM skills down, I persevered. Needless to say, I missed connecting with my friends and my teachers in person, its hard to recreate the excitement and action that takes place in a classroom, for me it is an important part of the overall learning experience. During my online instruction in the spring, my mom was always looking over my shoulder while I sat at the kitchen table and my dogs were enjoying biting my toes during my endless ZOOMS, but still online learning could not take the place of being at Shady Side Academy for a regular school day with my classmates and teachers.
Like many people surviving the pandemic here in the United States and around the world we believed by summer COVID-19 would be a thing of the past, this horrific historic disaster, would be brief and just like that life would soon be back to normal, at least by summer, right? Not. Unfortunately, here we are in the middle of August and the virus still has deadly tentacles that continues to spread ferociously, touching everyone’s lives in unpredictable and sadly harmful ways even for us athletes who dream of playing football. I was excited about participating in summer football camp at SSA that kicked off in June. I envisioned my life as a football player taking off especially since this is the first time I would be practicing on a High School team. I was relieved when football practice for the summer was not cancelled, however while the powers that be sorted out our football destiny, we had a few moments of interruption and uncertainty. When we got the green light to continue practice through the summer most of my teammates and I were relieved and we understood we would have to practice differently under COVID-19, no doubt this would not be your regular football season.
Your football game strategy and techniques needs to be on point especially with COVID-19 looming over the field, social distancing with my passionate teammates who are eager to run a cool play and throw a football is a new challenge. You better keep your stride and forget about the fact that we had to wait four long weeks before we could even touch a football. On the long hot 90 degree days, you better make sure you have your own water jug, no sharing sips and stories around the big Gatorade cooler, remember to stand 6-feet apart (this is always on your mind.) Don’t forget your plays and get into formation, run the ball, COVID-19 rules, they exist, they are real and required.
While COVID-19 has tried to take away everything good this summer, I’m thankful that our team, one of the few in the region is still able to practice and come together. While the politics continue over whether or not we will have a season, I still enjoy my football practice even with the extra safety precautions and the major changes required and necessary. As part of the precautions, every morning our temperature is taken and we are asked questions regarding our travel activities. My teammates diligently wear our masks for most of our practice and we place our items in a small hoop, making sure not to contaminate anything. Overall, everyone is working hard at following the social distancing rules because we understand the importance of why we have the guidelines in the first place is to help keep us safe and alive.
My favorite part of every practice is when we go to lift weights, in smaller groups, with masks secured, my teammates and I turn up the music and focus on our goals of winning. Moments like this help me escape the harsh reality of COVID-19 and I am thankful that our football camp was not canceled. I appreciate the camaraderie of the players and how important it is for my mental and physical growth overall. I realize so many other players in other school districts have already canceled their football seasons and fall athletics, and I understand the difficult decisions that many people have to make because of COVID-19. These are tough decisions for families, school administrators, coaches, lawmakers, and the athletes but in the face of adversity we are all learning important lessons about life and how precious these moments are sometimes we have to run the most difficult plays to get to the end zone.
My coach, Chuck DiNardo at Shady Side Academy emphasizes during practice to work hard at everything that you do, and when you show up for practice be ready to do your best. He also tells us to thank our parents and others who are making sacrifices for us to be able to practice, and more importantly we should not take them for granted especially during this deadly pandemic.
TO BE OR NOT TO BE, indeed, this is the question that sums up our football season-- whether or not we will have a season come fall is still up in the air and a heated political hot potato, I am not sure who really wins in the end. While the politics about the season continues to be sorted out, I can appreciate that everyone on my football team still comes to work hard every practice and we all have respect for each other, our coaches, and our equipment and stadium. More importantly, our team focuses on respect and trust the most. Coach DiNardo, aka “Coach D” says that he wants to be able to trust us to keep working hard even when we are tired. We are tired of this pandemic, but our spirits are not broken by the desire to continue to play a game that means so much to us young athletes.
As our social distancing rules continues, for me football is still a great escape from this pandemic, sincere props go out to Coach DiNardo, Coach Charles Calabrese “Breezy,” Coach Dave Havern, Coach Josh Frechette, and Coach Alex Bellinotti for their dedication and leadership throughout the summer practice. Indeed, I am a better player because of their relentless commitment and support through this highly unusual, unpredictable but need I say, worthwhile summer of football. Whether we play football or not will continue to be debated, I hope those marking the decisions understand most of us athletes still care about what actions take place. What resonates with me during these turbulent times, is our SSA football chant after each practice where my teammates and I come together to shout loud and proud: “Family on 3. 1. 2. 3. Family.” Family is what matters the most and sometimes it comes in the form of a football team, and sometimes in a family we learn crucial life long lessons during difficult situations like this dreadful pandemic, these are the moments that you need to be strong, stay focused and keep grinding!
Isaiah Beckham, PUM Contributor
August 17, 2020
Isaiah Beckham, Shady Side Academy Football player, 9th grade student.