Johnstown Spotlight: Black Lives Matter

By Ron Fisher

In light of the recent tragedies and marches engulfing the Country, I wanted to take a moment to speak on the inequality and injustice that you can find in any neighborhood.  This article isn’t my typical piece, only because it’s not about someone I know; it’s about someone you know.  We are all human beings, yet time and time again we have been given clear examples of how the “majority” still rules.  As the black community is making strides to better itself, African-Americans are being forced to believe that their lives have no value.  With the steadily increasing number of Blacks dying by the hands of police officers, tension continues to build across the Country, and the nation finds itself in what I believe to be this generation’s civil rights movement.

You know the names of Trayvon Martin, Eric Gardner and Michael Brown, but have you ever heard of Elip Cheatham?  Elip Cheatham, 27, died from multiple gunshot wounds after three officers fired shots into his vehicle.  Officers reported that shots were fired after Elip refused to stop at their command.  The incident occurred as Elip was en route to a local hospital to tend to his cousin’s gunshot wound who laid in the backseat of the vehicle.

An aunt of Elip, Valerie Jenkins, said Cheatham was yelling out the window that he had to get his cousin to the hospital, when he was shot.  “They could have shot the tires out. There is always something else they could do,” Jenkins said. “The police, they need to protect and serve.”

Relations between the City’s police department and local residents, in particular the African-American community, became heated and the public demanded justice.  In August of 2012 the three police officers were justified in the shooting death of Elip Cheatham.  This decision left many scratching their heads, exasperated; looking for answers they may never get the answers to.

The reason I mention Elip in this article is because this tragic incident happened here in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  With Johnstown’s total population of just over 20,400 people, Elip’s death is a true example of how these tragedies across the nation are hitting home for a lot of us.   The next time this violence strikes it could be you, your mother, or your child.

Now is the time for the Black community to come together.  We need to stand tall, stand proud, and remind this nation that Black lives matter.  Olympic champion Wilma Rudolph once said, “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”

Black lives matter and unfortunately for blacks, 150 years after the slaves were freed, we are still chained and shackled in theory.  With it being a new year and a fresh start for most of us, let’s set the tone and continue to build up our community.  That is the only way that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s vision will ever become anything more than just a dream.  It’s time to wake up folks and start taking a stance. We may not be forced to take a back seat anymore, but until the African-American community realizes the power and potential that we truly possess, how will the rest of the world?  Black Lives Matter and in 2015 it’s the Black community’s time to remind others of that.  Will you stand with me?


Ron Fisher is from Johnstown, PA and submits articles on what’s happening in Cambria County.  He is a recent graduate of Full Sail University where he obtained his Master’s degree in Entertainment Business Management.  He serves on numerous boards in his community including the Johnstown NAACP where he is an executive member and host of their “Perspectives” television show.  Email:

This article was first published in Soul Pitt Quarterly Print Magazine (W15)
Copyright Soul Pitt Media.  All Rights Reserved.


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2 Responses to Johnstown Spotlight: Black Lives Matter

  1. Honors for helping to make the people of Johnstown relevant to this national phenomenon.

    The searchlight for a solution is germinating in this blood soaked land, this issue must raise the Savior in us to defeat this death plague.

    Unity is the Key.

  2. Saharah says:

    Thank you for making this article and keeping his story alive. Elip is truly missed by his family and friends. Losing him has changed our lives forever and the denial of justice/his rights or any type of explanation/consideration from Johnstown’s “public figures” has left us in despair. We still want JUSTICE, we’ll have our time to tell them how we feel one day, still not giving up! #Justice4ElipCheatham

    Thank you Ron!

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