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From Slavery to Freedom Film Series: Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness

December 15, 2021 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm


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Join us for an online screening of “Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness” on December 15, as part of the 2021 From Slavery to Freedom Film Series presented by the African American Program of the Heinz History Center in partnership with the Frick Environmental Center of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

A film that will challenge students to think of “knowledge” as a socio-political construct, shaped by the implicit values and underlying power dynamics of the society in which it is produced. It calls on each viewer to ask, “Who controls my cultural identity?” As a result, the film promises to become a core text in Introductory Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, Sociology of Knowledge, African Studies, African American Studies, and Race Relations classes.

Melville Herskovits was a Columbia University trained anthropologist whose major publication, The Myth of the Negro Past, became a source for Black cultural and political revolution during the 1960s. Although Herskovits was not a supporter of Black power nor of Black intellectual development and sought to sink W.E.B. Dubois’ project “Encyclopedia Africana,” he was able to advance his political theories of Blackness through the African Studies Center at Northwestern University in 1948. Some may say that Herskovits was a great example of white patrimony of Black culture limiting the voice of Black people as he defined Blackness for himself and academia.

University of Pittsburgh Department of Africana Studies Chair and Associate Professor of Anthropology and the African Diaspora, Yolanda Covington-Ward, PhD. will discuss the film and its ramifications for understanding Blackness in academia and lay society. Covington-Ward is president of the Association of Africanist Anthropology. Her research focuses on embodiment, identity, religion, performance, and politics, emphasizing the agency and creativity of people of African descent in transforming the worlds around them.


Registration is free. Please register online. You will be emailed information about how to join the screening and discussion virtually.

Click here to register!