In 1966, at the peak of the Civil Rights Movement, national and local activists around the country united around a common theme: building opportunities for the next generation of black leadership. This was the common agenda. One organization who took this work to heart is Pittsburgh's Urban Youth Action (UYA). Founded by Bernard H. Jones, Sr in 1966 in response to the lack of employment opportunities for black youth, UYA became a unique model for preparing youth for work in education, entrepreneurship and public service. But when Jones died in 2002 and when the organization risked closure last fall, his son, Rev. Cornell Jones pledged to fight to keep the organization and his father's dream alive.
"Under my father's direction, UYA was the first successful African American workforce development program in the city," Jones told the New Pittsburgh Courier. Despite organizational challenges amid a poor economy, Jones insists UYA is needed now more than ever, especially in a city like Pittsburgh where unemployment among black youth is nearly 58% in some neighborhoods (2010 Census).
We sent our Pittsburgh-based GCP fellow, Chris Ivey, to produce a micro-doc about Rev. Cornell Jones' work, the young people whose lives have been transformed by UYA, and his vision to "take back the community, block by block" while building on his father's legacy.