Youth sports activities director Jim Crable ponders the racism he faces and Black Lives Matter

Image Credit: Hearst Owned

Interview by Chris Lovingood

Image Credit: Hearst Owned

Image Credit: Hearst Owned

This article was originally published on Hearst Television. Click here to see the video.

The halls of the Schenley High School building in a neighborhood of Pittsburgh – the sound of silence is the modern atmospheric setting.

If you turned back the clock, you’d hear the halls full of students, classrooms with educators preparing future generations, and the screeching of sneakers against the basketball court in the gym.

The sound of silence doesn’t mean the high school is empty. In fact, it still has life in the form of tenants. The former high school is now called Schenley Apartments and is inhabited by people who live in converted corridors and classrooms.

Jim Crable shared his story with Chris Lovingood, a reporter for WTAE, at the former high school. Crable was once a student there after moving to Pittsburgh in the 1950s. He helped launch youth sports for the Sewickley Community Center and for the Quaker Valley in suburban Pittsburgh.

“Hotels have become nursing homes. High schools have turned into some kind of research center, but what did you say it is? ”Said Krabbel. “An apartment complex?”

Crable is visibly amazed at the massive changes at the school. However, the changes in the school pale in comparison to the changes he witnessed in his 77 years.

Crable took a moment to ponder a painful history of racism that began with his time in Brownsville, where he was born and attended elementary school.

“I knew I was different. I knew I was a different color, ”said Crable. “And in many cases, when some people got mad at me, they let me know I was a different color when they picked up a nickname to call me.”

When Lovingood asked his name, Crable replied, “Yes, the N-word, and then we could see in a geography or history book what a ‘colored person’ was then.” And that colored person would have a name. Or we saw an Indian who was sometimes my color or darker. And sometime after school, just to annoy me, they called me the name they saw in school. “

The story goes on

Fast forward a decade when Crable once went home from Atlanta on an Army vacation. As he went home, he remembered a moment when he said it was one of the most terrible in his life.

“The next thing I know was a pickup truck behind me and just close enough to almost bump my car, high beams on, three guys in the front seat,” said Crable. “Three gun racks in the back of the truck, (they were) shouting names from the car: ‘Get on! Pull over!'”

This came at a time when the civil rights movement was in full swing in the 1960s.

Many white Americans still did not see black Americans as equals, and so they opposed the inequality they faced.

The same theme is playing out today during the Black Lives Matter movement.

Lovingood asked Crable to compare the marches and protests during the civil rights movement to what he saw after the 2020 murder of George Floyd.

“These protests that I see on TV compared to what I saw when I performed, there is just a world of difference. But these marches are starting to get scary, ”said Crable. “I mean, I don’t know if I would be involved out of fear, not that I would necessarily be against what they are doing or protesting, but I would fear for my safety because I think it is just getting out of hand and I think a lot of people who are innocent and want to do the right thing get hurt. I hope for more equality and, above all, for more truthfulness and peace. “

Turn inspiration into action

  • Consider making a donation to the National Association of Black Journalists. You can use your funds for scholarships and grants that support the academic and professional development of aspiring young journalists.

  • Support the National Caucus & Center on Black Aging. NCCBA’s educational programs are dedicated to improving the quality of life of older African Americans and equipping them with the tools they need to stand up for themselves.

This story was created as part of Lift Every Voice in partnership with Lexus. Lift Every Voice records the wisdom and life experiences of the oldest generation of Black Americans by connecting them with a new generation of black journalists. The Oral History series will run on Hearst magazine, newspaper, and television sites around June th 2021. The full portfolio can be found at

Image Credit: Hearst Owned

Image Credit: Hearst Owned

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