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History Center to honor Black History Month with events, exhibits, special film screenings


Last updated 1/30/2019 at 9:38pm

The History Center's award-winning From Slavery to Freedom exhibition chronicles the anti-slavery movement, the Underground Railroad, and the impact of 19th-century activism on the modern quest for civil and human rights in Western Pa.

 The Smithsonian-affiliated Senator John Heinz History Center interprets and preserves African American heritage year-round through a variety of events and exhibitions curated by the museum's African American Program.

In recognition of Black History Month, the History Center's African American Program will present several programs throughout February in collaboration with community partners.

Smithsonian Channel Documentary Screening: "The Green Book: Guide to Freedom," Tuesday, Feb. 19 at the Heinz History Center from 6 – 8:15 p.m.

The History Center will partner with the Smithsonian Channel to host an exclusive preview screening of the Smithsonian Channel documentary "The Green Book: Guide to Freedom," followed by a panel discussion. In the 1930s, a black postal carrier named Victor Green published a book to help African Americans navigate safe passage across America.

Created by filmmaker Yoruba Richen, the documentary explores some of the segregated nation's safe havens and notorious "sundown towns" and shines a light on stories of struggle and indignity as well as opportunity and triumph. The film will make its television premiere on Monday, Feb. 25 on the Smithsonian Channel. This program is free, but pre-registration is required at

From Slavery to Freedom Film Series: "Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power," Wednesday, Feb. 20 at the Carnegie Library – Homewood Branch, 7101 Hamilton Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15208, from 5:30 – 8 p.m.

The From Slavery to Freedom Film Series examines themes from the History Center's award-winning exhibition through the presentation of film screenings. Part of the 2019 film series, "Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power" is an electrifying look at an historically erased leader that provides a thought-provoking examination of Black radicalism and resistance and serves as a launching pad for the study of Black liberation philosophies. Admission is free, and registration is not required.

Black History Month Lecture: Black Power and Black Politics of the 1960s-'70s on Thursday, Feb. 28 at the Heinz History Center from 6 – 8 p.m.

 The African American Program's fifth annual Black History Month Lecture will feature Leonard Moore, Ph.D., who will speak on the topic of Black power and Black politics of the 1960s and '70s. Moore is the vice president for diversity and community engagement and the George Littlefield Professor of American History at The University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Moore is the author of three books on Black politics, and he is currently working on a biography of the controversial pastor, congressman, and civil rights leader Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Admission to this event is free but does not include access to museum exhibitions. Register at

In addition to Black History Month programs, African American history is on display daily within the History Center's six floors of exhibitions:

• The History Center's award-winning From Slavery to Freedom exhibition explores more than 250 years of African American history. Presented by BNY Mellon, this long-term exhibit highlights the enslavement of Africans and its impact on the American economy, the history of the anti-slavery movement, the Underground Railroad, and the impact of 19th-century activism on the modern quest for civil and human rights in Pittsburgh.

• The long-term exhibition, Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation, highlights local African American history, featuring a recreated Crawford Grill with artifacts from Pittsburgh jazz legends such as Mary Lou Williams, Stanley Turrentine, and George Benson; and a WWII display highlighting the Pittsburgh Courier's Double V Campaign and local Tuskegee Airmen.

• The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum showcases Pittsburgh's unmatched Negro League baseball legacy with artifacts including Satchel Paige's glove and a rare Homestead Grays uniform.

• The Special Collections Gallery features a collection of artifacts from local African Americans, including legendary photographer Charles "Teenie" Harris' camera, a 20-foot 1941 Cadillac funeral hearse from the historic Gaines Funeral Home, and original garments created by West African immigrant Dosina Blemahdoo.


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