State Senator urges Fayette NAACP to support 'Occupy' movement
By Cindy Ekas
Published: Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011,
State Sen. Vincent Hughes of the 7th senatorial district in Philadelphia urged members of the Fayette County Branch of NAACP to "get organized and speak up" to fight unemployment and state and federal budget cutbacks.
At the 22nd annual Human Rights Dinner held at the Youghiogheny Western Baptist Association's Headquarters and Christian Center near Uniontown, Hughes gave a keynote speech.
Hughes stressed the importance of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which he said began in New York City and is spreading across the nation and around the world.
"The movement is taking place to fight the imbalance that currently exists between the rich and the poor," Hughes said.
"People are struggling to make ends meet," he added. "The wage of an average American is less than it was 10 years ago. Wages are going down, but health insurance costs are going up for individuals. This has to stop."
Hughes said the problem has occurred because a few people are making all of the decisions and the rest are being eliminated from the process.
Hughes said he is worried about the 60 million Americans who have no health insurance.
"If we wouldn't have had billions of dollars coming from Washington, D.C., the job losses would have quadrupled," he said. "There would be 45 children in each classroom, and our athletic programs in our schools would have been shut down."
Because of state budget cutbacks, Hughes said, the cost of a college education increased by about 19 percent at Penn State, Pitt and Temple.
"Only the very rich can afford to go to college," Hughes said. "Students are getting out of college, and they owe $80,000 to $120,000 in student loans. It's taking college graduates a year or 18 months to find a job. You thought you got your kids out of the house, and they are moving back in because they can't find jobs."
Hughes said NAACP members need to work with community members in an effort to resolve the serious issues facing America.
"We have to embrace these young people to make them see that their future is at stake and so is ours," he said. "One organization that can help turn things around is the NAACP. The fight is here, and we're all in this together."
At the dinner, Gwendolyn Ridgley, president of the Fayette County branch of the NAACP, presented the following awards:
• Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Charles Machesky, superintendent of the Uniontown Area School District.
• Community Service Award to Blanche Madison of the Jubilee Soup Kitchen.
• NAACP Unit Service Award to Jacqueline Fritts, executive director of the Crime Victims' Center.
Machesky, who plans to retire from his superintendent's position at the end of this year, said he rushed home from Boston because he was so humbled to receive the award.
"Today is a very important day in the civil rights movement because the monument to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was unveiled in Washington, D.C.," Machesky said. "He advocated each of us to do his part. I want to thank Dr. King for his movement."
Madison, who could not attend the dinner, took on the responsibility of feeding the needy of the community with her husband, the late Rev. Clifford Madison, in November 1994.
The couple worked as a team. Blanche prepared the food and her husband served it. The Rev. Madison also took the time to minister by offering prayer and counseling to anyone who needed it.
Despite a fire that damaged the original building, the ministry continued its operation. After the fire, the Jubilee Soup Kitchen moved to its present location on East Fayette Street.
With the assistance of her son, Clifford Madison Jr., Blanche continues to prepare and offer home-cooked meals to anyone in need.
Ridgley said the NAACP Unit Service Award was given to Fritts for appreciation of her organization and commitment to helping people, providing services and conducting outreach in the community.
"I know you (Jacquie) don't think you were deserving of this award, but we did," Ridgley said.
"I'm so humbled by this award," Fritts later said. "I learned so much about human rights by being part of this organization. I have taken what I learned and applied it to my job."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Groundbreaking for Connellsville hotel shifts to January
- Connellsville man headed to Fayette court
- Election code violations against Bullskin supervisors waived to county court
- Three Connellsville area veterans share stories from World War II
- Connellsville/Scottdale Salvation Army unit needs help to ‘Fill the Truck’
- Connellsville’s St. Rita’s Christian Mothers prepare for cookie sale
- Connellsville student ‘touched the lives of so many’
- Two new members welcomed to Connellsville Area School Board
- Churches, nonprofits participate in It’s a Connellsville Christmas
- District court will open Dec. 16 in Star Junction
- Chiropractic office opens in Connellsville