Liberty Avenue came alive with the sights and sounds of the 23rd annual African American Heritage Day Parade held Oct. 2.

The parade began at 11 a.m. at the Mellon Arena parking lot on Centre Avenue in the Hill District. The post-parade activities culminated at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture on Liberty Avenue.

ONE OF MANY—The Perry High School Band was one of the many high school bands performing at the African American Heritage Day Parade. (Photo by Rossano P. Stewart)

The spectacular grandstand event was hosted by Doris Carson Wil­liams, president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce and Rev. Dr. Loran E. Mann from Pentecostal Temple. Local community organizations, youth groups, marching bands and politicians made their way down the parade route waving to the hundreds of onlookers who lined the streets.

“I thought the parade was very nice. It was an honor and privilege to narrate with Rev. Loran Mann. And it was nice to see all the groups marching together and the Nation of Islam participate,” said Williams. “It was also nice to have an African-American parade that culminated at a center for African-American culture. I was thrilled to see all the people visit the August Wilson Center after the parade.”

Although there is not yet a final count, there is an estimate of about 4,000 people visiting the center on Saturday.

Schenley High School Marching Band, in colorful Black and Red uniforms led the way from Centre Avenue in impressive fashion. Perry High School Commodores Band, showed exceptional talent in musical selections and synchronicity with their dance routines, in splendorous blue and white. Most impressive were the young cheerleaders of the Northside Stallions in black and orange. The weather played a big part in the parade as well by delivering one of the best days of the early Fall.

This years’ parade made for a wonderful and glorious way to spend the day with family and friends of the greater Pittsburgh area. Included in the day’s extravaganza, which followed immediately after the parade, was a film premiere of “Bridging the Blood,” at the AWC. Also various film videos of the ITXM Project which included “What Trouble Means: The Life Story of Nate Smith,” and a documentary about the Music of the Hill District. At 12:30 p.m. the day culminated with stellar performances by Missouri Entertainment artists, Yung Watt and Saawan Jones, Fyve, and also the very beautiful and talented, Carmen Miller sang splendidly for the crowd outside on Liberty Avenue. Yet the day continued at 4 p.m. inside the AWC, with Steelers Super Bowl-40 Champion, Mike Logan as the Master of Ceremonies. A special presentation award was given to Carla Arnold, of The Central Institution for Blood Transfusion Medicine, for outstanding work in the community. At 4:30 p.m. the lights went down for the powerful sounds of Pittsburgh’s local hip-hop band Formula 412. The audience gave a standing ovation for the performance of Pittsburgh’s own. Afterwards, the moment the audience waited for all day, the main event, 2004 American Idol Winner, Fantasia Barrino, electrified the SRO crowd with her curvaceous body and her mighty voice.

What a performance it was, the crowd never sat in their seats during her live on stage explosive selections. She certainly gave the crowd what they came to see.

Overall the day was a great success for the many organizations whom sponsored the event: Sen. Wayne D. Fontana, and media sponsors: The New Pittsburgh Courier, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Nationwide Insurance, Housing Authority of Pennsylvania, Chuck Sanders Charities, Gateway Health Plan and Sweetwater Arts Festival.

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