The Western PA Black Political Assembly (WPBPA) has prepared this Press Release considering continuing developments across our nation that impact Pittsburgh and Harrisburg and other cities in Pennsylvania.
One major development is the ongoing assault on the Voting Rights Act.
Voting is a constitutional right that should be made easier rather than more difficult as they’re doing in Pennsylvania. Black and Latinx populations are being victimized and disenfranchised by anti-voting measures.
A second continuing development necessitating this press conference is the trickle-down economic theory that has not trickled down into the lives of a majority of neither the citizens of Pittsburgh nor Harrisburg. Over the past 20 years, both Pittsburgh and Harrisburg have experienced significant displacement of Black and Latinx due to gentrification at the expense of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
An example of this in Pittsburgh is the destruction of the Penn Plaza Apartments and the forced displacement of hundreds of its African American residents remain a stain on the City of Pittsburgh. The current Mayor, William Peduto, has turned a blind eye to the former residents of the Penn Plaza Apartments and the 7,000 Black residents’ exit from the city between 2014 and 2018, almost 8 percent of the Black population of the City of Pittsburgh.
An example of this in Harrisburg is the Midtown area and the 6th and 7th street corridors that were once occupied by 80 percent Black and Latinx.
Finally, some of the worst city government policies in Pittsburgh resulted in the destruction of the historic Black community of the Hill District, the theft of $100 million from Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars, and the shameful lack of a diverse City of Pittsburgh government workforce.
These municipal policies are an assault on the Black and Latinx communities.
Thirdly, it is unconscionable and unacceptable that a city like Pittsburgh continues to be the source of horrible studies like the 2019 Gender Equity study that found that Pittsburgh is one of the worst cities in the country for Black women. Both Pittsburgh and Harrisburg continue to have appalling levels of child poverty as well. Pittsburgh was recently compared unfavorably to the apartheid cities of 1980s South Africa.
Our response to these continuing assaults on the Black and Latinx communities is:
1) Linking other marginalized communities like Pittsburgh and Harrisburg across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
2) Creating an aggressive robust voter outreach, education and turnout vehicle.
3) Prioritizing the use of the $14 billion in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania COVID relief dollars to rebuild Black and Latinx communities.