University of Pittsburgh
January 24, 2017

Pitt Event to Explore Role of the Black Church in American History


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—The role of the Black church throughout key stages of American history will be the focus of the University of Pittsburgh’s annual K. Leroy Irvis Black History Month Program.

“Faith: The African American Church Through American History” will take place at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at Alumni Hall, 4227 Fifth Ave., Oakland. The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required by visiting or by calling 412-624-7100 by Feb. 6.

The evening will begin with a reception in the first-floor Connolly Ballroom, followed by the main program at 7 p.m. in the seventh-floor auditorium.

Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher will recognize the evening’s honorees, Jeannette South-Paul, the Andrew W. Mathieson UPMC Professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Pitt’s School of Medicine, and Rev. James J. Robinson, civil rights leader, educator, and the first Black athlete to play varsity football at Pitt.

Then, featured speaker R. Drew Smith, reverend and professor of urban ministry at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, will present a narrative of the role of the church in times of slavery, the journey out of slavery, the civil rights movement, and the post-civil rights era. His comments will be highlighted by performances by the Some of God’s Children Gospel Choir, the Pittsburgh CAPA choir, and members of the Hill Dance Academy Theatre.

About Pitt’s K. Leroy Irvis Black History Month Program
Pitt began its annual Black History Month Program in 2004 with the world premiere of the documentary K. Leroy Irvis: The Lion of Pennsylvania. In 2008, the University renamed the event the K. Leroy Irvis Black History Month Program to honor the memory of the legendary Pennsylvania legislative leader and Pitt alumnus and emeritus trustee. Irvis, who in 1977 became the first African American speaker of the House of Representatives in Pennsylvania and the first Black speaker of any state house since reconstruction, sponsored in 1966 the bill that made Pitt a state-related institution of higher education.