City honors young local black leaders
Jasmine Hearn of the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble performs during a reception Wednesday for the opening of an exhibit at the City-County Building in tribute to Black History Month. Watching are Army Maj. Lisa Bellamy and Charles Chapman, right, two of 10 people whose accomplishments are cited in the exhibit. Another of the honorees, Greer Reed-Jones, artistic director of Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, worked to create the dance ensemble.
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About 100 people attended an opening reception Wednesday for the city's tribute to Black History Month, an exhibit of photographs and biographies honoring 10 local black leaders.
The exhibit, "History in the Making: Honoring our Young African American Leaders of Today," will be displayed at the City-County Building through Feb. 26.
Among the 10 honorees chosen were Paul Ellis Jr., 40, of the Hill District, a lawyer who helped negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement with the Penguins, and La'Tasha Mayes, 28, of Morningside, a Philadelphia native who founded New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice.
Ms. Mayes said she did not expect accolades for her work; she was shocked when she was chosen.
"I do the work because it's what's right," she said. "I do it because I believe it's what I was born to do."
In the exhibit, each honoree's biography is paired with that of an older -- or historical -- person devoted to similar work.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said the exhibit is intended to elevate today's leaders by connecting them with a rich past.
Greer Reed-Jones, 43, of Robinson, the artistic director of Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, was paired with Judith Jamison, the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
"I was very excited," said Ms. Reed-Jones. "What I do comes so naturally. I think that when I do make an impact on my community and young people, once in a while, it's recognized."
The other honorees were:
• Major Lisa Bellamy, whose military career of more than 20 years has taken her far from her native Pittsburgh.
• Charles Chapman, a young University of Pittsburgh graduate who founded the L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry, which serves the homeless.
• Constance Horton, the executive director of the Fund for Advancement of Minorities through Education, which provides scholarships and internships for local students.
• Jamilla Rice, a teacher at Northside Urban Pathways Charter School who was recently one of 50 people nationwide to win a Milken Educator Award.
• Monte Robinson, the head football coach at his alma mater, Westinghouse High School.
• Rob Wilson, a financial adviser at Blazer Capital Management.
• Barrett Woods, an orthopedic surgeon.
The award ceremony closed with a performance by three women from the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble.
First Published February 4, 2010 12:00 am