Black History Month Celebrating and honoring the legacy of African Americans in Pittsburgh's parks

The story of august wilson park

Located in Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District, August Wilson Park, formerly Cliffside Park, serves as a vibrant neighborhood hub. Restored in 2016, the Parks Conservancy's Education team, working alongside neighborhood and community organizations, helps activate the space for park lovers of all ages.  

Before 2009, the status of August Wilson Park (formerly Cliffside Park) could have been described as lost but not forgotten. After witnessing years of the park’s decline and deterioration, residents rallied to preserve and reimagine this important community asset. 

Opened to the public on August 6th, 2016, the new August Wilson Park features a number of improvements and an expanded view of the rivers. The park plan, designed by Environmental Planning and Design, relied heavily on community input. The rolling, fully accessible landscape features public art inspired by neighborhood children; an installation of vintage photographs from Pittsburgh native Charles "Teenie" Harris and the Oliver M. Kaufmann Photograph Collection; and quotations from beloved Pittsburgh playwright August Wilson. The most beautiful view of the city’s landscape is free and open to all.

AWP Summer 2016 Playground Blue Sky Person 3 (Jeremy Marshall)

From Slavery to Freedom Garden

To promote understanding of the African Diaspora, the Heinz History Center and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy collaborated to create the From Slavery to Freedom Garden at the Frick Environmental Center. During the antebellum period of the 19th century Pittsburgh became a destination of freedom seekers. The From Slavery to Freedom Garden tells part of that story by showcasing plants used for food and medicinal purposes -- some found in woodlands and fields along the journey to freedom, others cultivated in home gardens of free people of color.

The From Slavery to Freedom garden was developed in partnership with the Heinz History Center as part of a larger exhibit that highlights the enslavement of people from Africa 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. ​

Click here to learn more about the From Slavery to Freedom Garden

Notable Environmentalists

Black environmentalists have made some of the most significant and long-lasting changes to the parks and recreation field and environmentalist movement by creating a welcoming space for all in nature while educating audiences about the challenges many People of Color face. Click below to learn about three notable environmentalists who have been influential and inspirational changemakers throughout the African American community, or read the full blog here.

Rue Mapp

Rue Mapp is the founder and CEO of OutdoorAfro, a not-for-profit organization on a mission to celebrate and inspire Black connections and leadership in nature.

Dr. Robert Bullard

Robert Bullard is an author, academic, and activist. He's also known as "the father of environmental justice."

Jeannine Kayembe

Jeannine Kayembe is a writer, painter, musician, and co-founder of LifeDoGrow Urban Farm in North Philadelphia.

Additional Resources


The City of Pittsburgh celebrates Black History Month by showcasing the life and works of American playwright and Pittsburgh native son August Wilson (1945 – 2005), who became one of the most important voices in modern theater.  He is best known for his Century Cycle -- also called The Pittsburgh Cycle -- a collection of  plays set in his hometown that span across decades.  All 10 of the plays have become Broadway productions, and two earned Wilson the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Click here to learn more!


Explore more than 250 years of African American history in the History Center’s exhibition, From Slavery to Freedom. The long-term exhibit, presented by BNY Mellon, 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.

Click here to explore!


To create a sustainable future, we must meet the fullest needs of all people in our communities, for today and tomorrow. Our shared priorities include working with communities to develop inclusive and equitable climate solutions, from buildings and energy to climate change education.

Click here to read the full letter!