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Arts, Sports & Culture

Celebrating Black History Month Through 12 Oral Histories

Courtesy PNC

Oral histories from some of the region’s most prominent African Americans will be a featured part of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Pittsburgh.

As part of PNC’s Legacy Project, the oral histories will be displayed at 600 Liberty Ave. and are available online.

The exhibit features the oral histories of 12 African Americans, including musicians Sean Jones and Patricia Prattis Jennings, community leaders Alma Speed Fox and Esther L. Bush, and Tony Award winning actor Billy Porter.

Donna Peterman, PNC executive vice president, said the exhibit shows the rich history in Western Pennsylvania’s African American culture.

“We have done 24 oral histories up to now of other leaders,” she said, “which had included African Americans, but I think the singular focus on it really shows the depth of talent that we have in this city.”

Other honorees include Tuskegee Airman Wendell Freeland, educator Helen Faison, New Pittsburgh Courier editor and publisher Rod Doss, artist Thaddeus Mosley, former chief executive officer of the YMCA of Pittsburgh Julius Jones, and Olympic gold medalist and three-time WNBA champion Swin Cash.

The downtown display includes touchscreen monitors that showcase timelines and photographs of Pittsburgh’s past, as well as the oral histories.

Peterman said the exhibit isn’t just a celebration, but an educational experience.

“For people who are unaware of the contributions of African Americans to Pittsburgh, this will do a great deal to show that it’s been significant and rich,” she said.

The free display will debut Jan. 20 on Martin Luther King Day and will be open weekdays 11 a.m. through 3 p.m.