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McKeesport councilwoman shares life's lessons during Black History Month talk

Vertullo | Daily News
Conducting a Black History Month lesson on education and politics with Francis McClure Intermediate School students, McKeesport Councilwoman V. Fawn Walker-Montgomery teaches fifth-grader Camri Cosby to interact with her constituents. Jennifer R.

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By Jennifer R. Vertullo
Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, 3:01 a.m.

In a series of Black History Month presentations at Francis McClure Intermediate School, McKeesport Councilwoman V. Fawn Walker-Montgomery discussed education and politics with fifth-graders.

The McKeesport Area school hosted district board member Trisha Gadson for a presentation on respect and tolerance last week, and YMCA director Dexter Hairston will speak next week on healthy minds and bodies.

“We thought about what guests we could have during Black History Month,” Francis McClure principal Pamela Gordon said. “We wanted to work with our community and bring the outside in for a larger purpose.”

Walker, 33, began her council term in 2010 after success in primary and general elections in 2009. She is a graduate of McKeesport Area High School, Johnson C. Smith University and Point Park University.

Her Wednesday presentation, called “I Am Because They Were,” focused on her background and governmental processes, with a tone that gave credit to those who “paved the way” for African-American involvement in government. She highlighted the accomplishments of black leaders on a national level, but added local officials who served in McKeesport before her time on council, such as Carolyn Waters Young, Charles Mikel, Laura Jenkins and Lance Cash.

“If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be able to be on city council,” Walker said.

Walker discussed how laws are passed on the local level in the form of ordinances or resolutions, and on the state and national levels as bills considered by the House of Representatives and Senate.

Using an example of fast food lunches in school cafeterias, Walker divided students into a mock House and Senate. She chose two students two take a bill to the legislative branches and another to serve as governor. The bill was amended to satisfy both sides by including healthy options.

“There are compromises you have to make in politics,” Walker explained.

Gordon said Walker's presentation was interesting because it put a unique spin on an often mundane subject.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or

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