Mayor Gainey challenges Black parents in Pittsburgh: ‘Our kids need you’

Pittsburgh’s mayor, Ed Gainey, has had enough with the gun violence.

He shed the dress shirt, tie and sportcoat for a hoodie, jacket, jeans and Steeler hat and spoke candidly to the crowd assembled for Kaari Thompson’s vigil. Thompson, 4, was shot and killed at the corner of Lincoln and Lemington avenues on Dec. 1. Her mother, Temani Lewis, died days later.

Since Gainey became mayor, there have been 69 homicides in the city. Some have made national headlines, like the shooting outside a North Side gas station that claimed the lives of three, including
two mothers who were innocent bystanders.

Mayor Gainey didn’t come from Squirrel Hill, or Shadyside, or the suburbs. He grew up in East Liberty, graduated from Peabody High School, served as a state representative for Homewood, Lincoln-Lemington, East
Liberty, Larimer and other majority-Black areas, and now is the first Black mayor of Pittsburgh. He said he doesn’t have to sugarcoat anything, because, unlike other Pittsburgh mayors, “I’m from the other side of the tracks, so I can have this conversation. You can like it or love
it, because it’s the truth.”

Mayor Gainey is angry at what some parents are showing their children, as far as how to act in society.
“We’re on Facebook, beefing with one another, talking noise on one another, as our children watch. What are we modeling? We are modeling what we don’t want (the children) to become. I want you to go through your friend list on Facebook, and you tell me how many are beefing with one another. Or when you go to the schools, say to the teacher, ‘What can I do for my child,’ not argue with the teacher. We gotta have a serious conversation because the only ones that have ever saved us, is us.”

Mayor Gainey reiterated that if African Americans understood their history, of how much they’ve overcome from being slaves, to Jim Crow laws, to not being able to vote, “we wouldn’t want to be gangsters and thugs. We would want to be kings and queens, because that’s who we are. When will we accept the role that our children’s responsibility is up to us, and nobody else?”

Mayor Gainey stopped, and looked at the crowd, before he challenged the parents in the crowd, and the parents all across Black communities in the region. “They said you are guaranteed to grow old, but are you guaranteed to grow up? A lot of us grow old, but didn’t grow up. Parents, I need you. Our kids need you.”

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