Originally published: 2/13/2023
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Just more than a year after he began leading the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, CEO Carlos T. Carter took to the pulpit Sunday as the civil-rights nonprofit marks its 105th year.

Speaking at Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Larimer, Mr. Carter said his group is prioritizing economic opportunity as it begins a second century.

“Civil rights aren’t civil rights when you can’t afford a loaf of bread,” Mr. Carter said to applause, his appearance part of the 36th annual Urban League Sunday. He highlighted capital for Black-owned businesses and affordable housing among the keys to progress.

Its service programs ranging from economic self-sufficiency to employment and family development, the Urban League has long partnered with Black churches in the region. Urban League Sunday, held at a different church each year, is a Black History Month celebration spotlighting that historic partnership.

This year’s assembly included Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey — the city’s first Black mayor — in addition to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the Rev. Glenn G. Grayson Sr. of Wesley Center African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the keynote speaker, among dozens in attendance.

Rev. Grayson asked why, in a place repeatedly called a most livable city, so many people in Pittsburgh aren’t living their best lives.

“Sometimes we have to ask ourselves the question: What got us here?” he said, soon referencing systemic racism among the factors. He urged the crowd to maintain forward momentum: “Keep it moving.”

Reached last week, Rev. Grayson said he wanted to encourage the community — and especially Black and brown people — to be positive “in a season of so much unsettledness.”

“The bottom line: Don’t lose hope,” he said. “We are a resilient people.”

Mr. Gainey, in his remarks Sunday, said a new civil-rights movement needs help. He gave it a name — “Save our youth” — lamenting that young people too often answer disputes with guns.

“Help us save our children. Nobody is coming to save our children,” the mayor said. “Only us.”

Just after the occasion was the 57th Super Bowl, which kicked off in Glendale, Ariz., about an hour following the service. It was the first Super Bowl in which both teams fielded Black starting quarterbacks — a chance to witness NFL history if only the church program were to end on time, speakers hinted.

It did.

“We pray that the Holy Spirit keeps us to that” schedule, Rev. Grayson said beforehand. “I’ll be honored by anyone present.”