Pittsburgh NAACP To Prioritize Census & Black Voter Registration

Mar 9, 2020

  

On today's program: Pittsburgh’s new NAACP director shares her vision for equitable community development; how refugees are affecting some American towns; and why some local libraries have eliminated late fees.

NAACP wants to fight for Pittsburgh's black residents
(00:00 — 12:31)

Kellie Ware-Seabron says she wants to make the Pittsburgh chapter of the NAACP “forward-looking and a force to be reckoned with.” She took over as its new executive director in February after serving as the city of Pittsburgh’s first diversity and inclusion policy analyst.  

Ware-Seabron says there were limitations to what she could do in her city post.

“There are a number of equity issues that definitely impact people, especially black and brown folks in the city, that city government has no control over,” including the quality of education and transportation, she says. “The city can give incentives for employers to locate here, but that doesn’t create equity in the jobs themselves.”

City Council unanimously adopted a resolution in May declaring Pittsburgh an “All-In City,” which Ware-Seabron says she takes to mean leadership is on board with economic equity, diversity and inclusion. That will mean asking "ourselves some of the difficult questions," she says, and requiring "some people and institutions that have been ‘takers’ to give more. I think that would be a first step.”

Ware-Seabron says the organization will spend 2020 focusing on voter registration and education, as well as urging black residents to complete their U.S. Census forms.

What PA can learn from refugee resettlement in Georgia
(14:30 — 19:10)

More than 500,000 refugees have been resettled across the U.S. over the last 10 years, and Pennsylvania ranks among the nation's top 10 states, according to data from New American Economy.

For America Amplified: Election 2020, producer Andrea Tudhope spent time in Clarkston, Ga., a small town that resettles the nation's highest number of refugees per capita every year. The distinction has earned Clarkston the nickname, “Ellis Island of the South.” 

Tudhope spoke to residents of one suburb whose opinions about how things have changed are as varied as the more than 60 nationalities represented. 

Libraries in Allegheny County may be writing off your fines
(19:12 — 28:12)

The Allegheny County Library Association is trying to get more people into its 46 public libraries by eliminating fines for overdue books. Executive director Marilyn Jenkins says 14 libraries so far have stopped charging, but they do still bill for lost and stolen items.

The association joins its counterparts in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco that have also eliminated fines. Jenkins says the idea is to encourage people to come back to the library instead of losing patrons due to a financial burden or sense of embarrassment about late fees. 

Jenkins says libraries won't experience a noticeable loss of revenue from doing away with fees.  

90.5 WESA’s Caroline Bourque contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.