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Pittsburgh mayor honors pioneering civil rights activist with key to the city

November 10, 2018

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto honored pioneering civil rights activist Alma Fox with a key to the city Tuesday, commending her for a lifetime of public service and calling her a “patriot in its truest form.”

Fox is the first woman to receive a key to the city from Peduto.

“When we thought about who would be the first woman that we would recognize for this honor, it became abundantly clear: Somebody’s who’s dedicated seven decades of her life to fighting for civil justice. Somebody who took the courageous stances back in the 1950s and the 1960s to forever change Pittsburgh and this country. Somebody who’s not afraid to do the hard work. Somebody who would take the lead and lead the charge,” Peduto said.

Fox, 95, of the Hill District became involved with the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the 1950s after moving from Cleveland to Pittsburgh in 1949.

She became a central figure in civil rights demonstrations during the 1950s and 1960s and participated in every march from the Hill District’s Freedom Corner, Peduto said.

Fox said she’s not finished.

“I’m going to use my key to open wide whatever door there is to help me get voters to the polls on Tuesday (Nov. 6),” she said. “That’s what I’ll be doing for the next two weeks, doing my best to make sure that voters get out and vote. I hope that’s what you’ll be doing, too. It’s not hard. Just do it.”

About 50 people, including family and friends, gathered in Peduto’s conference room to honor Fox. Tim Stevens, a former Pittsburgh NAACP director and current chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project, presented Fox with a bouquet of roses.

“She has been my inspiration, my civil rights mom,” Stevens said.

Fox served among other things as executive director of the Pittsburgh NAACP chapter and equal opportunity manager for the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Mines, and on the Pittsburgh Human Relations Commission. She also served on the national board of directors for the National Organization for Women.

“Alma, on behalf of the people of the city of Pittsburgh, thank you for forever changing our city for the better,” the mayor said. “You are our representative in a global movement for the rights of people.”

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