Pittsburgh Community Leader Shares His Experience Following Meeting With Vice President Mike Pence

Lynne Hayes-Freeland & Robert Mangino
June 12, 2020 - 4:12 pm
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PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - Former congressional candidate and current director of the Commonwealth Foundation Lenny McAllister was among a number of local religious and community leaders to meet with Vice President Mike Pence Friday at Covenant Church of Pittsburgh in Wilksinsburg.

The meeting was part of an effort from the Trump administration to listen and learn how to help heal and move the country forward following the death of George Floyd.

McAllister spoke to Lynne Hayes-Freeland and Robert Mangino today on KDKA Radio and told them the meeting was a conversation about race relations. "We talked about what types of things we can put into motion, from a public policy standpoint, from a spiritual sentiment, from other aspects of our natual dynamic that we have a society to get us past this point in time and become a more perfect union. Not just rhetorically, but directly and litterally."

McAllister said the President and others were there more to listen and engage than to have a Q&A session. "One of the things I appreciated about that was, there was an opportunity to build connections and talk about real policies," said McAllister. "We had the individual, Scott Turner, who is running the Opportunity Zones initiative out of Washington, D.C. that works very directly with the President and Vice President about exconomic development in areas such as Erie, Pennsylvania, inner-city Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the like. So, it was a chance to talk to the people that needed to hear a new tone and a new direction in regards to public policy to heal the systemic things that we're dealing with, not just let's all get back along, Because as you well know, getting along and prospering while you're getting along are two completely different things."

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Lynne asked Lenny if topics like the President going to Tulsa or Juneteenth were brought up and McAllister said no, because they were focused on tone and messaging. "There's a million people that address the president on that and, as we well know - there are times the president listens, there are times the president does not listen.

"One of the things I did want to address in regards to tone was, when we talk about America and you have a group of Americans that feel like second class citizens and have been treated like second class citizens throughout the history of America, that tone matters. That the tone has to reunite the country and bring those that have been on the periphery of this country into the fold permanently and then move everybody forward in a united sense."

McAllister said discussing those topics in a settinng like this would have taken away from policy conversations that needed to take place. "It's time to talk abu tpolicies that will empower people in our country, heal the wounds that we have had for too long and finally let new generations feel what the American dream can be like in their lives in a true sense of the word."

In addition to McAllister, other attendees of the meeting with Pence included Senator Pat Toomey, retired Judge Cheryl Allen, (Pennsylvania Superior Court), Bishop Joseph Garlington (pastor at the Covenant Church of Pittsburgh), Reverend James Nelson (law enforcement officers and reverend) and Pastor Ross Owens (Allegheny Alliance Church).

Watch the conversation with the vice president at Covenant Church here.

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