Ways to honor Black History Month in the Pittsburgh area

February marks Black History Month, a time to celebrate the contributions African Americans have made to this country and their many achievements.

Due to the pandemic, many events this year have gone virtual, with several organizations offering different online events and programs.

So if you’re in search of ways to enjoy the events in an atypical time, here are some options below:

The August Wilson African American Cultural Center will present “Pittsburgh’s Black Art Scene: Past, Present and Future” at 7 p.m. on Feb. 12. The event will showcase the remarkable history of the National Negro Opera House, award-winning playwright and director Mark Clayton Southers, and the young virtuosos of the funk-jazz collective, Funky Fly Project, representing the past, present and future of Pittsburgh’s dynamic art scene.

“The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity” webinar series will be hosted by the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Gifted and Talented Office the week of Feb. 15. Each night will include black history activities and student presentations from current PPS students and PPS graduates about the opportunities available to “advance Black and brown minds in Pittsburgh.” Open to the public; register here

The city school district is also recognizing and honoring Black PPS parents who are essential workers. You can view the profiles here.

The City of Pittsburgh is celebrating Black History Month with a salute to Pittsburgh Jazz Legends throughout the month of February, in partnership with KDKA Radio. An interview with percussionist Roger Humphries will launch a weekly series of recorded Zoom interviews.

The virtual tribute will feature an overview of Pittsburgh’s jazz history, performer interviews, artist profiles and performance videos in honoring jazz musicians with Pittsburgh roots, including Earl Hines, Mary Lou Williams, Billy Eckstine, Art Blakey, Walt Harper, Ahmad Jamal, George Benson and Roger Humphries. To take part, visit www.pittsburghpa.gov/events/black-history, follow @PghEventsOffice on Twitter or @PghEventsOffice on Facebook.

“Long Live Their Legacy” is a Pirates program designed to promote the rich history of the Negro Leagues and educate younger fans on their importance. Presentations occur every Wednesday through the end of the month (starting Feb. 10). Attendance is open to everyone. There are three time slots per day. Register at pirates.com/longlivetheirlegacy.

Afua Bruce
Afua Bruce(Carnegie Science Center)

Carnegie Science Center is celebrating the groundbreaking influences of notable Black scientists that left indelible marks on the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). There are Facebook Live “Career Connections” chats with Dr. J’Tia Hart (Feb. 16 at 5:30 p.m.), a nuclear engineer at Argonne National Laboratory and with Afua Bruce (Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.), chief program officer at DataKind, a global nonprofit that harnesses the power of data science and AI.

Dr. J’Tia Hart is a nuclear engineer at Argonne National Laboratory where she directs analysis covering international affairs, nuclear energy and safety, energy security, and cybersecurity to inform executive cabinet decisions.

The center’s Miniature Railroad & Villagewhich reopens Saturday, will feature tiny replicas of the Hill District home of Daisy Lampkin, Pittsburgh Courier Building, the famous Crawford Grill, and The LeMoyne House, a two-story sandstone structure built in 1812 by Dr. F. Julius LeMoyne in Washington, Pa.

Hasan Jeffries
Hasan Jeffries(Heinz History Center)

The Heinz History Center in the Strip District will host a free virtual lecture — “(Re)Making History: Memory, Mythmaking, and the Civil Rights Movement” — Feb. 12 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.. featuring Ohio State University professor and author Hasan Jeffries. He has contributed to several public history projects, serving as the lead scholar for the renovation of the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tenn.

The lecture will explore how popular misconceptions about the civil rights movement remake history. Drawing on popular media forms, including movies and political cartoons, the discussion will interrogate leading myths about the African American fight for equality. Register in advance at heinzhistorycenter.org/events.

The “From Slavery to Freedom” Film Series will virtually screen “Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek” on Feb. 17 at 5:30 p.m. The movie explores the painful but inspiring journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who moves home to coastal Mississippi. The free viewing is offered through the History Center and the Frick Environmental Center. Register at heinzhistorycenter.org/events.


READ MORE: Explore past Post-Gazette stories celebrating Black History Month


Also, year-round the Smithsonian-affiliated History Center interprets and preserves African American history and culture through a variety of events and exhibitions curated by the museum’s African American Program.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has a variety of book and video recommendations and virtual events, including a book conversation with Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and Jim Dale, who will delve into the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings’ book “We’re Better Than This” at 7 p.m. on Feb. 22 via Zoom (register here). The late Maryland Democratic congressman, recaps his struggle to overcome racism in politics and a contentious relationship with former President Donald Trump in a forceful valedictory.

▪ The library’s wide selection of videos, including its Creative Course Club and Teen Time videos, also showcase Black artists and craftsmen.

▪ You can learn about Bisa Butler-inspired fabric collages on Feb. 22 on YouTube. Butler is known for her colorful quilted portraits, often of famous figures in Black history including Frederick Douglass and Josephine Baker.

▪ There’s also a Feb. 15 YouTube tutorial on block prints inspired by the work of Elizabeth Catlett. Known for her linocut prints, Catlett was inspired by stories about slavery from her grandmother and depicted the 20th-century Black experience in her work.

For more details on the library events, you can visit the library’s Black History Month webpage or email at info@carnegielibrary.org.

First Published February 6, 2021, 8:00am