Rain and a brisk mid 40s temperatures may have kept the crowd at bay, but it did not diminish the positive spirit evoked by the 27th annual African American Heritage Parade that was held Oct. 4.
The parade route ran down Liberty Avenue beginning at 11th Street, and stopping at 5th and Stanwix, in front of the Highmark Inc. building, at Fifth Avenue Place.
A review stand was stationed at the end of the route. It is there where dignitaries such as state Rep.Ed Gainey, of the 24th Legislative District, along with County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and former City Councilman Sala Udin, himself a former Freedom Rider and Parade Grand Marshall, gave speeches to the crowd.
Co-MCs, Ty Miller, manager of News and Sports for American Urban Radio, and Parade Coordinator Doris Carson Williams greeted and introduced each parade participant.
More than 30 groups and organizations participated this year. Some participants included, Prince Hall Masonic Lodge G.L.F.M, the Mt. Ararat Baptist Church Girl Scout Troup #45280; the Soldiers and Sailors Drum Corps, led by historian John Ford, the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation (PBMF), B-Pep, and Allegheny County Housing Authority, just to name a few.
Also marching were representatives from Omega Psi Phi and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternities and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Barack Obama Academy marching band provided a lively beat for marchers, and of significant note is that one of the band members who played the cymbals was being pushed in a wheel chair.
There were also dancing groups as well as a marching group “The Band” who traveled here from Baltimore to be a part of the celebration.
Local drill teams performed and created a rhythmic atmosphere and helped minimize the chill in the air, pushed back the rain and brought out the sun.
Headed by African American Chamber of Commerce, President & CEO, Doris Carson Williams, CCE a committee works throughout the year putting together the plans for the day. Members of the group are Roy Banner, Barbara Baulding, Paulette Blanks, LaVera Brown, Shawn Hicks, Buddy Manley, Alex Matthews, Shonda Miles, and Richard Morris.
“This parade is important because it provides an opportunity for the community to celebrate the many achievements and outstanding accomplishments of African Americans in this region that have helped to make Pittsburgh the most livable city,” Manley said.
“It is important that we do everything to make sure folks remember the vital contribution Blacks have made in all areas, the arts, the sciences, as well as entertainment, labor and industry—there are exhibits to show some of these significant contributions.”
Even Mayor Bill Peduto joined the crowed at the review stand, he said “I am happy to be here, being here makes me part of the Pittsburgh Family.”
Sponsored by Hghmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, prior Parades had the August Wilson Center as a focal point, but that was the missing link this year.
At the conclusion of the Parade, there were scheduled activities for the community from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. that included a health fair in 301 Fifth Avenue Place, exhibits and activities for children as well as theater and art activities at the Peirce Studios on Liberty Avenue.
Williams said of this year’s event, “It is a pleasure to continue the legacy of parade founder, the late Harvey Adams, it is essential that those of us in any type of leadership do our part to make sure there is continued focus on positive African-American contribution to the city.
“It is also important to provide positive outlets and activities for our youth; they need to have as many positive experiences to be a part of as possible—I like to think this is one of them.”
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