Gov. Wolf invites the head of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley to join the state Commission on African American Affairs

Written by on June 24, 2021

Gov. Wolf invites the head of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley to join the state Commission on African American Affairs

By Genesis Ortega

June 24, 2021

Screenshot from Hasshan Batt’s TedTalk on Youtube.

The issues of diversity, equity and inclusion are an essential part of the conversation around race in the Lehigh Valley and across the state. Gov. Tom Wolf tapped the head of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley to join his commission on African American Affairs. 

Listen to the story.

The role of the commission is to relay the issues and concerns of Pennsylvania’s African Americans directly to the governor. 

“The governor can’t speak to every single African American person across the state. So he’s identified these 25 people that he says he trusts their opinions. So it’s not only am I an expert but I have a relationship with people in the community that are driving the message that I’m bringing back,” says Hasshan Batts, executive director of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley. 

“We have not had a voice in the Valley ever, as my understanding, on the Commission. So I’m honored to be selected to represent us,” Batts says. 

About 6% of the region’s population is African American. Batts says the area faces a challenge that’s not as apparent in other cities with larger Black communities. 

“In the Lehigh Valley, I think the power imbalances are highlighted. You don’t have a lot of people of African American descent in positions of power as key stakeholders with voice. And as that’s beginning to change there’s some resistance and snapback that happens at the institutional level,” Batts says. 

Batts also wants to see the commission take on equity in health and education, violence prevention and criminal justice reform. 

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