CELEBRATING PITT & BLACK HISTORY—Robert Hill, Samuel Black and Mark A. Nordenberg (Photos by Debbie Norrell)
More than 500 attended the 2013 K. Leroy Irvis Black History Month Program on Feb. 5, at the Senator John Heinz History Center. Guests were invited to view “From Slavery to Freedom Pittsburgh and The Underground Railroad” before and after the evening’s program.
Robert Hill, Program co-host and University of Pittsburgh vice chancellor for public affairs, served as master of ceremonies while program co-host and University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg delivered greetings. University of Pittsburgh History Professor Laurence Glasco spoke about the historical context and the exhibit was introduced by Heinz History Director of African American Programs and Exhibition Curator Samuel Black.
Every February, the University of Pittsburgh K. Leroy Irvis Black History Month Program series pays tribute to the role of African-Americans in the ever-unfolding story of Pitt, Pittsburgh and beyond. Pitt’s Black History Month program was established in 2004 with the world premiere screening of “K. Leroy Irvis: The Lion of Pennsylvania.” The program was continued in 2006 and has become an annual observance of Pitt’s notable Black history.
In 2008 the observance was renamed the K. Leroy Irvis Black History Month Program to honor the memory of the legendary Pennsylvania legislative leader and, Pitt alumnus and trustee. Elected by acclamation in 1977, Irvis became the first African-American speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the only Black speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, along with the only Black speaker of any state house at that time. More than 40 years ago, he sponsored the bills creating the state-related system of universities that includes Pitt.