University of Pittsburgh
July 29, 2015

Honoring the Charleston Nine

Pitt hosts two renowned artists from South Carolina for an open discussion on national issues related to race and culture on July 30
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—The June 2015 mass shooting that took the lives of nine African Americans within South Carolina’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church returned America’s dialogue on race to the fore. The University of Pittsburgh will host two renowned artists from Charleston, S.C., for a contribution to that conversation with a discussion of art, culture, and the legacy of the “Charleston Nine.”

The event, “Honoring the Charleston Nine: Why We Need a ‘Requiem’ for African and African-American History,” will begin at 6 p.m. July 30 in Pitt’s Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, 650 Schenley Dr., Oakland. The discussion will be broadcast online at The event is free and open to the public. 

The dialogue will feature visual artist Jonathan Green and composer Lee Pringle. Their talk will be moderated by Pittsburgh native Anqwenique Wingfield, founder and director of Pittsburgh’s multidisciplinary artist collective Groove Aesthetic. 

“The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church has been the birthplace of countless moments in American history. It is unfortunate that the only aspect of the church’s history that most Americans know of is last month’s tragedy,” said Lora Ann Bray, chairperson for Pitt’s African Heritage Classroom Committee, a cosponsor of the event. “The conversation between these two brilliant artists offers a unique opportunity for local citizens to learn about the Southern culture that influenced both their personal identities and their artistic careers.”

Brief biographical information on the event’s speakers follows. 

Jonathan Green's work has been displayed in such notable venues as The Art Institute of Charleston, The Afro-American Museum of Philadelphia, and The American Embassy of Sierra Leone. His art has contributed to a wide range of musical and theater productions as well as literary and film projects throughout a career that has spanned more than 30 years. He is the cofounder of The Lowcountry Rice Culture Project, a Charleston-based nonprofit organization focused on the preservation of African American Southern culture. Green’s awards and distinctions include the South Carolina Arts Commission’s 2010 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts as well as a 2009 Key of Life Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

An accomplished vocalist, Lee Pringle has performed with numerous concert choirs throughout the Southern United States. He is the founder and artistic director of Charleston’s annual Colour of Music Black Classical Musicians Festival, which recognizes the historical contributions of Black composers and performers of classical music worldwide. Through his concert promotion and public relations firm Buster Elsie Productions, Pringle has produced more than 150 orchestral and choral concerts and has played an integral role in establishing the Charleston International Festival of Choirs and Ghana’s African Choral Festival. Pringle also has worked as a longtime creative consultant for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, serving as executive producer of four major annual productions as well as founding its Gospel Choir and Spiritual Ensemble Chorale.

In addition to Pitt’s African Heritage Classroom Committee, the event is sponsored by The Requiem for Rice, part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for the Arts in Society Performance Initiative. For more information, contact Kay Fitts, program chairperson for the African Heritage Classroom Committee, at 412-403-6839.