Morial: Make strides in education, employment and empowerment



Ten years after his first visit as president of the National Urban League, Marc Morial returned to Pittsburgh as the keynote luncheon speaker for the 95th Anniversary celebration of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.  

In his remarks on the State of Black America, Morial called Pittsburgh the “back bone” of industrialization and a city that continues to transform itself, adding that the State of Black Pittsburgh is not unlike the state of America, intrinsically intertwined and linked one to the other.



ESTHER BUSH, Pittsburgh Urban League president & CEO, gives her annual address on the state of the city’s Blacks.


And while he said he saw progress, he also said much needs to be done. And one of those things is for African-Americans to own some of their problems.

“I also see unemployment, tension between police and community, dismal poverty rates; I see the kind of crime that destroys families,” he said. “The challenge for us as a people is to not try to hide this stuff or sweep it under the rug.”

Morial said African-Americans need to make strides in education, employment and empowerment to have the ability to be truly independent. And political leadership should be held accountable to this.



RICHARD HARRIS, Urban League director of housing, calls on young activists to take a stand.


“You cannot say you want to fix and reform education then layoff teachers, deny students the option to study arts because funding for them has been cut, and invest more money in building jails than schools,” he said.

On employment, Morial said leaders need to facilitate opportunities for all able-bodied people who want to work.

“Economic independence and the ability to be self-reliant are paramount in economic growth,” he said. “This country will not know optimum economic growth until all those who desire it are able to secure a good job.”

Finally, with respect to empowerment, Morial again said African-Americans must take responsibility.

“To be achievers, to have hope in the future and to embrace a can-do attitude is the responsibility of all of us,” he said. “We need to be encouraging and empowering each other as we have been encouraged and empowered.”



MARISA C. BARTLEY, National Urban League of Young Professional vice president, gives a youthful address.


Esther Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, said it was an honor to have Morial help commemorated the chapter’s milestone.

“This was so significant that Marc Morial has joined us to celebrate our 95th anniversary,” she said. “He brings the presence of national participation, assuring that the Urban League can continue to play a role throughout the country as relates to the overriding issues that we as a people face here in Pittsburgh and beyond.”



REV. BRENDA J. GREGG opens the event with a prayer


In her own remarks, Bush praised the volunteers who made the event so memorable and assured the hundreds who attended all the workshops and meetings at the David L Lawrence Convention Center that her work would continue.

“The Urban League will provide bold leadership and innovative programs, services and policies which will contribute to the strength of the greater Pittsburgh region,” she said. “The Urban League will serve as a premier advocate for economic opportunity and justice that leads to significant improvement in the quality of people’s lives.”



ANNIE HANNA CESTRA, Urban League board member, delivers the welcome. (Photos by J.L. Martello)





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