University of Pittsburgh
January 26, 2006

Pitt Part of Three Noteworthy Commemorations In Celebration of Black History Month

Robert Hill, Pitt vice chancellor for public affairs, will be the featured reader at the Feb. 5 African American Read-In, coordinated by Pitt Emerita Professor Ogle Burks Duff, at First Baptist Church in Oakland. From Colored Orphans to Youth Development, an exhibition and publication on Three Rivers Youth's (TRY) 125-year history, was produced by Pitt's Office of Public Affairs; the exhibition runs through March 5 at Heinz History Center The contributions of civil rights pioneers, most with a Pitt connection, to be highlighted in Feb. 23 WQED-TV special, titled Torchbearers
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh will be part of three noteworthy Pittsburgh commemorations to mark Black History Month—the African American Read-In from 2:45 to 5 p.m. Feb. 5 in the First Baptist Church, Oakland; From Colored Orphans to Youth Development: The 125-Year History of Three Rivers Youth, 1880-2005, an exhibition, with an accompanying publication of the same title, on view through March 5 at the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, 1212 Smallman St.; and Torchbearers, a WQED-TV special feature, airing at 8 p.m. Feb. 23.

African American Read-In

Ogle Burks Duff, emerita professor in Pitt's School of Education, will coordinate the 17th Annual African American Read-In Chain in the First Baptist Church's main sanctuary, 159 N. Bellefield Ave. Pitt faculty member Richard Teaster will direct the combined First Baptist Church Choir and Pitt Women's Chorale and Glee Club, starting at 2:45 p.m., which will perform occasionally throughout the readings. This event is free and open to the public.

Robert Hill, Pitt vice chancellor for public affairs, will be reading selections from To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown (Warner Books, 1994), the autobiography of record company Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. Other Read-In participants include Pitt faculty and members of Black Greek-lettered organizations and the First Baptist Church. Works to be read will reflect and exemplify this year's theme, Giving Voice to Justice.

Three Rivers Youth Exhibition

Produced by Pitt's Office of Public Affairs and sponsored by that office and Pitt's Office of the Chancellor, with additional support from the Grable Foundation, the From Colored Orphans to Youth Development exhibition, and its accompanying publication, will tell in detail the unique story of the pathbreaking TRY—a social service organization that has persevered and then prospered through a succession of committed board members and leaders, both Black and White, from its beginnings in segregated late-19th-century America through two world wars, the Great Depression, and the civil rights movement to its present-day achievements of helping youth in need to succeed and prosper as adults.

TRY is the oldest agency in Pennsylvania founded to serve Black orphans, later evolving to serve youth and families, and the second-oldest such agency in the nation. In recent years, it has been recognized nationally for innovative programs and policies and regionally as one of the most notable agencies providing comprehensive services for a wide age range of youth, without regard to race.


The Feb. 23 WQED TV Torchbearers special will highlight contributions of Pittsburgh's civil rights pioneers, many of whom have a Pitt connection.

Hosted by WQED Multimedia's Chris Moore, Torchbearers documents some of the giants of the civil rights movement in Pittsburgh. Those with Pitt connections featured in the documentary are:

• Regis Bobonis Sr. (GSPIA '61), believed to be the first African American reporter at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who left the paper to become editor of the Pittsburgh Courier;

• 1948 Olympic Bronze Medalist Herbert Douglas Jr. (EDUC '48, '50), a member of the first racially integrated Pitt football team;

• Pitt Trustee Helen Faison (EDUC '46, '55, '75), the Pittsburgh Public School District's first female high school principal as well as its first African American high school principal;

• Wendell Freeland, attorney and former member of the Pitt Board of Trustees from 1988 to 1992;

• Robert Lavelle ( CBA '51, KGSB '54), president of Lavelle Real Estate Inc. and executive vice president of Dwelling House Savings and Loan Association, which has assisted minority families with mortgage loans;

• Thelma Lovette (SOC WK '72), regarded as the grande dame of civil rights of Pittsburgh; and

• Rev. James "Jimmy Joe" Robinson (CAS '51), cofounder of the Manchester Youth Development Center and the first African American to play football for Pitt.

Also featured in Torchbearers are Alma Speed Fox, past president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the NAACP; Judge Livingstone Johnson; and the late Rev. Dr. LeRoy Patrick.

The documentary uses interviews, photos, and archival footage to tell the story of Pittsburgh's struggles during what is known as the golden era of civil rights, from the 1950s through the '70s, and features many of the men and women who took risks for their beliefs. The program is underwritten by the University of Pittsburgh with additional funding from the African American Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on Torchbearers, go to