Bill Clinton Touts Progress And Honors Pittsburgh Freedom March Founder In Homewood Address

Sep 9, 2016

Former President Bill Clinton speaks to a crowd of a couple hundred at the Homewood Coliseum in Pittsburgh on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016.
Credit Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Motorcycles revved and a crowd marched by the line wrapping around the Homewood Coliseum on Friday where former President Bill Clinton spoke on behalf of his wife and Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Clinton’s visit fell on the same day as the funeral for a beloved pastor from the neighborhood. He offered condolences for the friends and relations of Reverend Eugene “Freedom” Blackwell, who died last month from cancer at the age of 43.

Sabrina Clark, 45, said Blackwell founded the Freedom March for peace years ago. Participants traditionally walk from Westinghouse High School down Frankstown Road, she said.

“This is what he does in the community every year... so we thought it would be fitting for us to march for his homegoing,” Clark said.

Clinton honored the reverend with a crowd of several hundred.

“When you get older and you’ve got more yesterdays than tomorrows, you ought to be more upbeat and forward looking, because every today counts more,” he said.

Progress framed his account of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s platform of economic development and social equality.

“She’s the only person you can vote for, the only person who’s actually offered a serious plan to give people real incentives to invest in coal country, in Indian country, and in neighborhoods like this one,” he said. “In cities that have been left out and left behind, in small towns and rural America.”

Some Pittsburgh residents said that was the message they came to hear.

Long-time Clinton family supporter Stephanie Spencer, 69, said she wants to see her native Homewood improve. Though culturally rich and very diverse, the center city neighborhood has been left behind in educational opportunities and infrastructure and frequently leads the city in violent crime.

Spencer said Clinton could change that.

“I think it’ll be history when she becomes President of the United States and I think it’s miraculous," said Spencer, who retired from U.S. Steel fifteen years ago. "She’s more than qualified.”

Sally Dougherty, 58, said she hopes Clinton will encourage revitalization and “bring life back into areas that desperately need it.”

A September Quinnipiac poll shows Clinton with a five-point lead over Donald trump in Pennsylvania.

The last day to register to vote in Pennsylvania is October 11.