“Power concedes nothing without a demand” Frederick Douglass
Our Story: The Black and White Reunion
The murders of unarmed black men by police in the United States and Pittsburgh are nothing new. White Pittsburgers became aware of police brutality and police killings in 1995 as the result of the homicide of Jonny Gammage, by 5 suburban police officers. His murder drew media attention because the 31year old black businessman was the cousin of a Pittsburgh Steeler. Like Eric Garner in New York, in 2014, Gammage’s death was the result of asphyxiation. Black Pittsburghers had long been aware of the fact that black males in Pittsburgh were in danger of being killed by police.
Tim Stevens, then President of the NAACP, Pittsburgh Chapter conceived and implemented the Black and White Reunion (BWR) in the wake of Gammage’s death as a way to bring light, not heat, to the racial divide in the City. A number of whites were inspired by the Gammage murder to join with the black community in addressing its struggles in this “most livable city.” While the Black and White Reunion is in its 20th year, 2016 marks its 18th annual summit.
Mission: “To bring together organizations and individuals to ELIMINATE racism, and to become allies in the struggle for human equality”.
Thus, the work of the BWR involves bringing diverse communities together to work to develop alliances for justice, and to eliminate human oppression, by promoting cooperation and collaboration on projects that impact 9 areas of human activity, economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex, and war. To achieve progress in these areas, the BWR works with individuals, groups, organizations, neighborhoods, communities, local, and state governments, as well as corporations, local and regional unions, coalitions, churches, temples, and mosques.
The BWR’s existing programs are models of diversity and shared power. They include: The Jonny Gammage Memorial Scholarship Fund, a voter registration project at The Community College of Allegheny County, and the annual Summit Against Racism. This past summer we celebrated the 5th annual barbecue in Schenley Park in an effort to bring diverse communities together. Past projects include the Mural Bridge/Diversity Project.
More recently we have broadened our focus to include
GLBTQ issues. Also, as Pittsburgh has become increasingly diverse over the last twenty years we have recognized that Pittsburgh is not only black and white and have worked to include the Latino and Asian communities in our efforts as well.
The YWCA is the fiscal sponsor for the Black and White Reunion