100 Black Men of Western PA, Pittsburgh Public Schools host African American History Challenge
A question about Pittsburgh's first Black college stumped participants in the 30th African American History Challenge Bowl: A Legacy of Academic Excellence. The longtime collaboration between Pittsburgh Public Schools and 100 Black Men of Western PA, Inc., took place on Friday at Pittsburgh Greenway. Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Wayne N.
Our Students Have Dreams! Thank You Dr. King.
As Black History Month kicked off, I was reflecting on my time as a student. My experience all those years ago was similar to that of most Black children today: mostly White teachers teaching Black history primarily in February.
I was told of Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass. I heard very little of Malcolm X, the FBI's campaign against civil rights leaders, the Rainbow Coalition put together by the Black Panther Party's Fred Hampton, or Hampton's assassination. I learned about the struggles of my enslaved ancestors, but not about Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey, or Nat Turner.
A few weeks ago, students deconstructed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have A Dream' speech. Society focuses on the lofty ideals of its meaning, but the students encourage all to sit with the heft of its complexity as students/staff did during this demonstration. Hearts were humbled by the legacy that Dr. King placed in our collective hands. He was gone too soon.
"In a meeting room Monday at the Jeron X. Grayson Community Center in the Hill District, a group of seven teens led a few dozen families in the reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's renowned "I Have a Dream" speech. One by one, the students stood in front of the crowd and recited passages from the 1963 address first delivered by King in front of tens of thousands of attendees at the March on Washington," Camille Stewart said.
"What inspired the us to really make sure that the youth of our community were involved today was about the children of the civil rights movement who really sacrificed their bodies, their lives, and really espoused their ideals based upon Martin Luther King," said Marimba Milliones, president and CEO of the Hill CDC and a host of the gathering Monday."
Pittsburgh Public Schools are positioning students to learn the art of history in a new way.
Activists Frankie Pace
Whenever there's a positive change in society, we can thank activists. They work in every corner of the world on issues like racial injustice, gender discrimination, unfair labor conditions, and much more. You can find activists lobbying their governments, calling for corporate accountability, and campaigning for equality. While their visions and specific goals may vary, all activists want a better world. To be effective, social movements combine many types of activism.
Let's highlight Mrs. Frankie Pace, a Hill District Activist, Businesswoman, and Leader who fought to preserve our neighborhood.
Mrs. Pace was an original member of the Homeowners and Tenants Association-the first group to protest City Hall during Pittsburgh Mayor David L. Lawrence's tenure; that group eventually became the Citizens Committee for Hill District Renewal (CCHDR), which Pace founded with realtor Robert Lavelle and civil rights activist Jim McCoy. The CCHDR was instrumental in organizing community leadership to insure urban redevelopment in the Hill District be done only with community input.
She once said, "I knew that …..if you wanted something done in your neighborhood you had to find out who to see to get it done, then go there and speak up." In 2021, the City of Pittsburgh honored Mrs. Pace with the newly-opened Frankie Pace Park located between the Lower Hill and Downtown.
Celebrating Black History in the Hill District
Have you ever heard of the 'Halfway Art Gallery?'
This art gallery has been a gem within the heart of the Hill District for decades.
"I met my husband at the Halfway Art Gallery when we were young children. We had our first date there many years ago on a rainy afternoon. What was once a nice outing, turned into a moment that changed the rest of my life. I fell in love there. It's nice to know we are taking the time to know and celebrate our history because Pittsburgh has so much of it," Geraldine Clemons said.
The Halfway Art Gallery, a pivotal cultural institution in Pittsburgh's Hill District, emerged in 1966 through the collaborative efforts of local activists and artists Ewari "Ed" Ellis and Carl Williams, with the support of Richard Martin, a young priest from St. Stephen's Episcopal Church. Directed by Ed Ellis and financially backed by St. Stephens, the gallery quickly became a central hub for artistic expression and cultural engagement in the Hill during the late 1960s.
August Wilson, the Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright, remembered the gallery as a vital center for nurturing the artistic spirit of the community, exemplifying the impactful collaboration between activists and artists. Patricia Packard, an Episcopal church outreach mission worker deeply involved in drug treatment work, played a significant role in the gallery's creation and mission.
Beyond visual arts, the Halfway Art Gallery served as a broader cultural and community resource, reflecting its commitment to marginalized voices. In 1968, the gallery initiated the publication of the poetry magazine Signal, offering local poets a platform for expression.
The gallery also functioned as a food bank distribution point, hosted drug treatment therapy meetings, and served as an informal referral service for social services, embodying its multifaceted role in the community. Sala Udin, a long-time friend of Ed Ellis, noted that Halfway played a crucial role as a political center for the emerging African Cultural Consciousness-Black Power movement in Pittsburgh.
Unfortunately, the gallery closed sometime in the early 1970s, marking the end of its impactful presence in the Hill District.
Popular Sports Forum to 'kick off' in Pittsburgh
The 2024 National Sports Forum (NSF) will "kick off" its 28th edition at the Wyndham Grand in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh!
The event is in person and will focus on "networking, education, off-site tours and idea-sharing with" some of the world's top sports executives, according to VisitPittsburgh's website.
NSF will begin on Feb. 26 and run through Feb. 28.
To view the day-by-day agenda and to find more information, you can check out NSF's website here.
Picture via NSF's official website
2 Black Pittsburgh trailblazers left their mark on the city's fashion scene
Time marches on, and with it, the memories of two of Pittsburgh's Black fashion trailblazers. Amy Stephenson, a fashion designer on the North Side, and William Pryor Sr., a master furrier in the Hill District, founded some of the first Black-owned businesses in Pittsburgh. The two were friends and often