Fred Logan: Pittsburgh Black politics 2024, grab hold and wear it out!

by Fred Logan

This year, the number one political goal in Pittsburgh’s Black community must be building a mobilized, educated, organized and politically active Black community. 

This has always been a top priority of local Black politics. And it has always been a very difficult task. 

But this year is bound to be overwhelmed with local, national, and worldwide conflicts and crises in Pittsburgh, the U.S. Congress, the Sudan, Gaza, the rampage of U.S. White right-wing reaction, a U.S. presidential campaign lurching toward civil war and on.  And that is what makes 2024 a “propitious” year for mass Black political organizing.  

Next year, the 1965 Voting Rights act will be 60 years old. In 1965 just over 100 Black people held elected office in the entire United States. Since then, Black people have been elected to thousands of public offices including the president of the United States and even the mayor of Pittsburgh.  

But, where in all of the Black euphoria is the local, self-reliant Black political base to wage Black struggles to the maximum, not just in electoral politics but in every arena of political struggles.  

Where are the local Black think tanks, PACs, roundtables, online newsletters and other all-Black instruments to monitor and assess how world events impact the local Black community?  

It must be emphasized, there is no magic in words “roundtables,” Political Action Committees,” think tanks” and other formations. The magic is the commitment, planning, and, behind closed doors, work that the Black community puts in building these formations.  

In Pittsburgh, the local Black Political Assembly of the early 1970s drew a lot of community participation and dissolved. Across the city, there are student assemblies, church assemblies and other assemblies. New York and California have state legislative assemblies. Assemblies span the political spectrum from right-to left, and back.  

In 1970, the Congress of African People was founded, briefly stirred the national Black community and then dissolved. The Black Radical Congress was born with in 1988 much with a lot of ballyhoo and died almost immediately. There is no magic in the terms “assembly,” “Congress,” or “political parties,” and so on. 

The Pittsburgh establishment is littered with think-tanks and other institutions to monitor and assess how world events impact its interests.  The local colleges and universities are think-tank repositories for the Pittsburgh establishment.            

The Pittsburgh office of the Rand Cooperation is located at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Craig Street, in the heart of Oakland, where the campuses of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University overlap.  Check out online the scale and mission of the Rand Corporation. 

Look at gun violence in the local Black community. Usually, the local media reports that another shooting took place in, say, Homewood. Several days later it may tell us the identity of the victim and perhaps give the name of a suspect. Often, the media coverage often ends there.  

Over all, what are the motives for much of the gun violence? Is it illegal drug money, a domestic quarrel, a love-triangle, what? 

 Rampant speculation and rumor-mongering in the Black community multiply the confusion. Where is the organized, in place, Pittsburgh Black communications network that monitor gun violence and helps immensely to clarify this plague?  

The local Democratic Party is locked in a power struggle between self-proclaimed “moderates,” “centralists,” “progressives,” and “independents.” What does this mean for local Black politics in 2024?   

What local Democratic Party VIP’s, Black, White, or otherwise, will support or oppose local U.S. Congresswoman Summer Lee in her 2024 campaign?  

Pennsylvania’s US Senator John Fetterman just hired the absurd, disgraced New York Republican George Santos who was recently kicked out of the U.S. Congress. John Fetterman just announced emphatically that he is not a “progressive.” Will over all the political landscape U.S. Senator John Fetterman support Lee, or will he be out Blue-dogging around this year? 

Most important, what concrete, organized support does the Black community in Lee’s district have now in place to endorse and materially support Lee with people, monies, resources, and strategies? 

The Black reparations struggle has the potential to significantly mobilize, educate, and organize the Black community. The 1972 Black Agenda from the Gary Convention, and many of the Black Agendas since then, had this potential. However, they failed to first mobilize, education and organize the Black community behind them or had the financial resources behind them, or strategize a plan to build this community support. 

The potential was there. In Pittsburgh, for example, a month or so before the National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana approximately 1,000 Black people held a political convention at old Fifth Avenue High School. Number One on the agenda was Black political power.  

The late Amiri Baraka, a leading national writer and activist of the Black Power/Black Arts era, once said at a Pittsburgh lecture that some Black VIPs do not cherish much financial support from the Black community at large. It would, he argued, make them more accountable to the Black community at large.  

And while most incumbent Black Elected Officials (BEOs) will smile and claim they cherish financial and logistical support from Black folks, some will also be quite worried about a politically mobilized, educated, and organized Black community “looking over their shoulders.”  

Carefully planned and implemented Meet the Candidate forums are important events to educate the community about candidates and issues. Very important to note they also pull-the-covers-off Black folks scrambling around selling political wolf tickets that they have a power base but can’t get 15 of their alleged members to come to their candidates forums or other programs.  This is important Black political education.     

During the 2023 political campaigns, county councilman Dewitt Walton and now city councilman-elect Khari Mosley both pledged to hold periodic town hall meetings in their respective county and city legislative districts.  Over time, this holds a lot of promise for political education in their respective districts. The Black community must hold them to their very important commitments. 

Some years ago, the late California-based and widely regarded African American scholar and activist Dr. David Covin told us that not every era is “propitious” for mass organizing. And when one does arise, he said, we must “grab” hold to it and “wear it out.” 




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