The state of the educational system in our city schools is a major issue, so it was with inspiration, ambition, knowledge and creativity that sponsors of Bynums Marketing and Communication, Inc. GlaxoSmithKline, UPMC Health Plan, University of Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, hosted the winners of the 18th Annual African American History Essay Contest awards ceremony at the Cardello Building on the North Shore, last month. Their goal is to recognize the important contributions that African-Americans have made to this country and the world.
The patio-atrium was filled with parents and educators, who enjoyed the essays of the boys and girls who ranged in age from six through 18. The casual atmosphere was hosted by Crystal Bynum, vice president of Business Development, Bynums Marketing & Communications, Inc. Opening remarks were from Russell Bynum, president of BM&C, Inc., and Melesia Dunn, director of Communication, N.A., GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.
Entertainment was provided by vocalist Etta Cox. Bob Allen of KDKA TV, gave encouragement to the youngsters to “never give up on your goals to succeed” and reminded the audience that he too, is a product of Pittsburgh’s public school system. The bright young academics received awards for their essays on several of the most prominent African-American inventors in this country’s history such as: Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, the first African-American to perform open heart surgery; Lewis Latimer, inventor of the carbon filament of the light bulb; Dr. Charles Drew, medical pioneer and developer of the blood bank; Granville T. Woods, inventor of the “telegraphony,” which allowed telegraph stations to send voice messages over wire; George Washington Carver, whom while at Tuskegee University in the late 1800s, discovered more than 300 new uses for peanuts and taught former slaves farming techniques for self-sufficiency; Madame C.J. Walker, hair care products inventor; Norbert Rillieux, inventor of the multiple-effect vacuum evaporator, a device that evaporated sugar solution in one vacuum chamber and was lauded by scientist worldwide as “the architect of the modern sugar industry.”
Winners in the 6-9 age group: Eric Moore, O’Hara Elementary School, first place; Rachel Himmel, O’Hara Elementary School, second place; Rowan Freiberg, O’Hara Elementary School, third place. 10-13, age group: Jonan Seely, Jefferson Elementary, first place; Adam Berkebile, The Campus School of Carlow University, second place; Malcolm Mitchell, The Campus School of Carlow University, third place. 14-18 age group: Nathaniel Barbour, The Campus School of Carlow University, first place; Amanda Olbeter, Carnegie Museum of Art, second place; Taylor Olbeter, Carnegie Museum of Art, third place. The evening’s’ ceremony was capped off with a check presentation by Tonita Davidson of the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation.