Marchers in Canonsburg head up North Central Avenue toward's the borough building during a June 20, 2020 march against racism and police brutality. (Photo by Heather Mull/PublicSource)

What has motivated residents of small-town Pennsylvania to join in the movement for racial equality?

Beverly Perkins stands among a couple hundred demonstrators in the middle of East Pike Street in the heart of downtown Canonsburg —population 8,760 and 87% white. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon in June. Perkins, who is Black, says Canonsburg “still has a lot of small town ideology,” and that her teenage son and nephew, who stand alongside her today, have been called racial slurs and “told to go pick cotton.”

At the center of the throng, about a dozen organizers in their early 20s take turns speaking into an amplified mic and megaphone. They talk about George Floyd, voting, gender, microaggressions and, among other things, instructions on how the crowd will soon march several blocks to the Canon-McMillan School District offices. One young woman sings the Black National Anthem. 

Police officers have cordoned off two blocks of Pike Street with plastic jersey barriers.

A woman jogs along East Carson Street in the South Side on March 20. (Photo by Kimberly Rowen/PublicSource)

24 PA counties can begin reopening; Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald hopes Pittsburgh area will follow soon

On Friday, May 1, Gov. Tom Wolf announced 24 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties will move from the red to yellow phase in the state’s three-phase matrix for restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

None of the counties moving to the yellow phase are within Southwestern Pennsylvania. As of Friday, Allegheny County, with a population of about 1.2 million, has reported 1,319 cases of COVID-19. In this area, state health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine cited population density as a particular reason for not moving to the yellow phase. In an interview after the governor’s announcement, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he wasn’t aware population density was a concern. “I was actually a little surprised.

Cathy Welsh, 44, of Turtle Creek, lost her son to gun violence in November 2018. The mural (left) in the Greater Valley Community Services in Braddock depicts teenagers and young adults from Woodland Hills who have also died due to gun violence since 2005. (Photo by Kat Procyk/PublicSource

Tree of Life trauma victims may find allies in neighborhoods experiencing chronic gun violence

Experts in trauma care differentiate between sudden violent events, such as the Tree of Life shooting, and chronic forms of violence, such as war zones or ongoing gun violence within neighborhoods. In Pittsburgh, chronic gun violence occurs in some neighborhoods, but not others, and that trauma is disproportionately carried by the city's black communities.