University of Pittsburgh
March 20, 2008

Pitt to Host "Crossroads of the World: 250 Years of African American History in Greater Pittsburgh"

31st Annual Conference on Black History in Pennsylvania April 3-5 features keynote speech by Mary Frances Berry, panel discussions, performances, and films
Contact: 

Sharon Blake

412-624-4364

Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH-The role African Americans played in shaping the Pittsburgh region will be the focus of the 31st Annual Conference on Black History in Pennsylvania, to be held April 3-5 on the University of Pittsburgh campus in Oakland.

This year, the annual conference, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), is titled "Crossroads of the World: 250 Years of African American History in Greater Pittsburgh." Scholars, government leaders, preservationists, students, tourism professionals, and many others from across the state will convene at Pitt to explore this region's Black history-from the local connections to the Civil War to how Pittsburgh musicians contributed to jazz, from its early years to the present. The registration fee is $65, but some conference events are at a lower cost or free. For complete information and a conference registration form, visit www.phmc.state.pa.us or call the PHMC at 717-783-9871.

Selected conference highlights follow; many conference sessions run concurrently.

April 3

4-6:30 p.m.

Twentieth Century Club, 4201 Bigelow Blvd., Oakland.

Reception and dedication ceremony for a Pennsylvania State Historical Marker in

honor of the late K. Leroy Irvis (LAW '54), legendary Pennsylvania legislative

leader, Pitt law school alumnus, and Pitt emeritus trustee; Irvis, who in 1977

became the first African American speaker of the House 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. The marker will

be on display, and it will be permanently erected at a later date at the site of Irvis'

first legislative office, on Wylie Ave. in the Hill District.

April 4

10-11:30 a.m.

Pitt's William Pitt Union, 3959 Fifth Ave., Oakland

Screening of the film "K. Leroy Irvis: The Lion of Pennsylvania"

Presenters: Robert Hill, Pitt vice chancellor for public affairs; Catherine L.

Edwards Irvis, the widow of K. Leroy Irvis; and Laurence Glasco, a professor of

history at Pitt.

10-11:30 a.m.

Pitt's William Pitt Union, 3959 Fifth Ave., Oakland

"Preserving the Past: Major Collections on African American History in

Pittsburgh"

Moderator: Samuel Black, curator of African American Collections, the Senator

John Heinz History Center.

Panelists: Wendy Pflug, Archivist, Pitt's Archives Service Center; Kerin Shellenbarger,

archivist of the Charles "Teenie" Harris Collection at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Noon-2 p.m.

Pitt's William Pitt Union, 3959 Fifth Ave., Oakland

Luncheon, with keynote address by Mary Frances Berry, Geraldine R. Segal

Professor of American Social Thought and professor of history at the University

of Pennsylvania and former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

A biographical sketch of Berry is attached.

2:30-4 p.m.

Pitt's William Pitt Union, 3959 Fifth Ave., Oakland

"Pittsburgh's Jazz: An International Legacy"

Moderator: Kenan Foley, instructor, Department of African and African

American Studies, Indiana State University

Panelists: Nelson Harrison, trombonist, composer, arranger, adjunct

professor of Africana and ethnic studies, Community College of Allegheny

County; James Johnson Jr., director, Afro-American Music Institute in Pittsburgh; Hosea Taylor, saxophonist and instructor, Homewood Jazz Workshop.

April 5

10:30 a.m.-noon

Pitt's William Pitt Union, 3959 Fifth Ave., Oakland

Screening of the WQED Pittsburgh-produced documentary "Fly Boys:

Western Pennsylvania's Tuskegee Airmen." The film was sponsored by Pitt, with

additional support from the Alcoa and Pittsburgh Foundations.

Presenters: Robert Hill, Pitt vice chancellor for public affairs; Rege Bobonis, Sr.,

vice president of the Daniel B. Matthews Historical Society.

Noon-2 p.m.

Wesley Center African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 2701 Centre Ave.,

Pittsburgh Awards Luncheon

"Honoring the Unsung Heroes of the African American Communities in Western Pennsylvania"

Honorees: Aurora Reading Club; The Frogs Club; William Pryor, owner of Pryor

Furs, a 60-year-old Hill District business; Bill Nunn Jr., former sports editor for

the "New Pittsburgh Courier" and longtime scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers; and

physician William Miller, whose medical practice was on The Hill.

In addition to Pitt, conference partners include the Senator John Heinz History Center, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Carnegie Mellon Center for African American Urban Studies and the Economy, Soldiers and Sailors Military Museum and Memorial, and VisitPittsburgh.

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