Black History Month in Pa. | Five for the Weekend

By: - February 13, 2021 6:30 am

(c) Sergii Figurnyi – WASHINGTON DC, USA – MARCH 29, 2020: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington DC in a sunny day, USA

Happy Weekend, all.

With Black History Month well underway, we thought it would be timely to take a look at Pennsylvania’s role in Black history, starting with its origins as a colony more than 400 years ago, right up to those who are working to make the commonwealth a better place for Black Americans now.

400 Years of African American History, The Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Office

Slavery and Underground Railroad Resources, The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

How COVID-19 hollowed out a generation of young Black men, ProPublica/Special to the Capital-Star

Report ranks states for racial integration and progress. How did Pa. do? | The Numbers Racket, Pennsylvania Capital-Star

‘There’s so much beauty in being Black from Scranton’: Meet the historian who’s now an advocate for her community, Pat Abdalla, Pennsylvania Capital-Star

As always, the Top 5 Most-Read Stories from this week are below.

Cheers to a leisurely weekend,
Cassie Miller, Associate Editor

1. Amendment limiting Pa. Gov.’s emergency powers heading to voters this May

A proposed constitutional amendment that would limit the emergency powers of Gov. Tom Wolf and his successors is headed for the statewide ballot.

Pennsylvanians will be asked to approve or reject the measure, which limits gubernatorial disaster declarations to 21 days absent legislative approval, when they cast their votes in this May’s municipal primary election.

The spring referendum vote was set up when the Pennsylvania House approved the amendment with a 116-86 vote on Friday.

“Senate Bill Two is a great bill,” state Rep. Russ Diamond, R-Lebanon said, referring to the measure. “It will give the people of our commonwealth – our bosses – a chance to reform and alter their form of government just like is promised by article 1, section 2 of the same constitution.”

The amendment follows a year in which legislative Republicans have charged that Wolf cut them out of the state’s COVID-19 response.

2. Fetterman’s early 2022 entrance gives him time to build strength — or set up his fall

Pennsylvania’s crowded 2022 political picture started to look a little clearer Monday, when Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman announced that he was officially running for U.S. Senate.

“Talk is cheap, but for the past 20 years, I have been working to represent, rebuild, and to advance these places,” Fetterman said in an announcement video. “It’s not rural versus urban, it’s rural and urban. I’m going to fight not for one part of Pennsylvania, not for one party of Pennsylvania, but for one Pennsylvania.”

The announcement wasn’t much a surprise. Fetterman’s ambitions for higher office have been clear for years.

But he’s the first big name to enter a highly competitive race to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey. And with control of the federal upper chamber split 50-50, it will attract big names and big money.

In interviews with a half-dozen Pennsylvania political operatives and observers, Fetterman’s early announcement drew a mixed reaction.

3. Fetterman justifies — but does not apologize for — chasing down and brandishing shotgun at Black jogger while Braddock mayor

His political future now clear, Democratic Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has addressed a controversial incident that occurred eight years ago when he was mayor of Braddock, Allegheny County.

In Dec. 2013, Fetterman chased a Black jogger in his pickup truck after hearing what he thought were gunshots while playing outside with his son, according to media reports. He then held up the unarmed man, Chris Miyares, with a shotgun while waiting for police to arrive.

Fetterman said he didn’t know the race of the individual when he began his pursuit and did not point the shotgun at Miyares, and did not chamber a shell. However, Miyares counters that Fetterman did point the gun at his chest.

The police arrived soon after, found Miyares was unarmed, and let him go.

No charges, against Miyares or Fetterman, were ever filed.

4. A Tale of Two Cities: The search for Harrisburg’s next mayor | Ana White

As one political campaign comes to an end with our President and Vice President beginning their term, we now look to local elections with the same level of intensity.

National events, local tensions, and city frustration have all been emotions that have led to this local election being one of the most important in the lives of many. With a mayoral race heating up with more candidates rising to the occasion, we start to wonder what candidates are looking for and what, if anything, the entire city can agree needs changed.

To say that Harrisburg is a tale of two cities would be most accurate. Nowhere is the difference between these worlds most obvious than in this space. Harrisburg City may be the clearest space in which we are able to see the differences in access and opportunity.

On one end, there is a thriving midtown section, filled with new businesses, construction of new homes and expansion of the Olde Uptown with soon to come courthouses and offices. At a glance, it seems that life in the State’s capital is thriving and looking up.

5. Pa. Health Dept. launches new ‘Your Turn’ tool to find out when it’s your turn to get COVID-19 vaccine

The state Health Department says it’s launched a new online tool to help Pennsylvanians keep track of when it’s their turn to schedule an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The “Your Turn” tool on the agency’s website is available to Pennsylvanians aged 65 and younger who are eligible for the vaccine, Health Department official Lindsey Mauldin told journalists during an online news briefing on Tuesday. People without internet access can call the Health Department at 877-PA-HEALTH to obtain that same information, officials said.

Right now, the state is vaccinating frontline workers, people aged 65 and older, and people aged 16 and older who have underlying conditions in the first phase of its vaccine rollout.

According to the Health Department, the online tool will allow people eligible to receive the vaccine to find a provider near them. Those who aren’t eligible yet can enter contact details so they can be alerted when it’s their turn. The online tool, however, will not allow people to schedule an appointment to get the vaccine.

And that’s the week. Enjoy the weekend and we’ll see you back here next week. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.