A change is gonna come. —Sam Cooke, 1964
The murders of unarmed black men by police in the United States and Pittsburgh are nothing new. White Pittsburghers became knowledgeable about police brutality and police killings in 1995 as the result of the not guilty verdict and homicide of Jonny Gammage by five suburban police officers. His murder drew media attention because this 31-year-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 1996. In the wake of Gammage’s death, it was a way to bring light, not heat, to the racial divide in the city. The primary mission of the group is to bring together organizations and individuals to ELIMINATE racism and to become allies in the struggle for human equality. 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 22nd year, 2018 marks the 20th annual summit.
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 nine areas of human activity——economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, gender, 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. Now in its 7th-year, The Summit Against Racism hosts an annual summer barbecue in an effort to bring diverse communities together.
More recently we have broadened our focus to include land and environmental justice, LGBTQA+ issues, and also actively work to include Muslim, Latino and Asian communities.
The YWCA is the fiscal sponsor of the Black and White Reunion.
The Summit Against Racism is the leading educational and skills-building gathering centered on racial justice in the Pittsburgh region. The Summit, in its 20th year, is a forum for learning, connecting and visioning for a more just Pittsburgh and world. with the aim of assessing the current needs of our community while developing strategies to combat racism in the coming year.
Ann F. + Major Mason
yvetta-lynne, Event Coordinator
The function, the very serious function of racism, is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining over and over again, your reason for being.―Toni Morrison
Nichole, Communications Coordinator
We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.― Dorothy Day
Thea, Ads + Outreach Coordinator
The time is always right to do what is right.― Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Katie Johnson, Food Coordinator
One of the ways that you can work for freedom is to change your mind and move away from the space of binaries, of simplistic either/or, and to be able to look at the picture that offers us complexity.—bell hooks
Isaac, Program Book Coordinator
[T]he more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into a dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or of all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side.
― Paulo Freire,
Thank You, Volunteers!
We are so grateful for the volunteers that have sustained this event for so long. Volunteers give their time, their energy and their hearts to the Summit. They weigh in on every aspect of the conference from deciding the theme, to evaluating workshop proposals, to planning the lunch menu and putting together the program book. Our volunteers ensure that the Summit continues to make a meaningful impact on all of those who attend.
Special thanks goes to this year’s planning committee including: Randy Francisco – Volunteer Coordination, Ghadah Makoshi – Racial Justice Town Hall, Grizzemily Cross- General Counsel, Cynthia Grace Devine Kepner – Community Resource Room Liason, James Scott, Mary Nell Cummings, Janet Lunde, Kimberly Gonxhe, Katie Yates, Evelynn Hawkins, Mike Pastorkovich, Michelle Bard, Mary Hall, Anupama Jain, Max Hill, Angela Watska, Jillian Carl, Carlos Torres, Tommy Indigo, Bob Maddock, Craig Stevens, Debra Fyock, Gregg Dietz, Marcia Bandes, Cynthia Magistro, Ted Cmarada, Dawn Lehman, Shane Freeman, Betty Pickett and Will Anderson.