Save the Date for the 109th Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, PA
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Why ASALH Is Going to Pittsburgh!

May 2024

Just as we “ran to the fight” last year in Jacksonville to challenge the Florida legislature’s draconian laws against the teaching of Black History, we are going to Pittsburgh to continue the fight and to highlight the current theme of “African American and the Arts” and other relevant issues including, but not limited to academic freedom, the Black Liberation movement, the importance of the vote and political action. While we are in Pittsburgh we will work with and promote the local arts community, patronize local African American businesses, and offer teachers and other educators the opportunity for in service learning on teaching the African American experience. ASALH will have its annual academic conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 25- 29, 2024. This marks ASALH’s third time meeting in the city in the 21st century. We are returning to Pittsburgh because we are always well supported by the community and conference attendees, and we always enjoy the city and its people.

Conference participants will learn about the history of the city’s African American community. Indeed, one of ASALH’s new initiatives, “ASALH Black History Freedom Schools,” has roots in an African American educational program started in 1832 by Reverend Lewis Woodson of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Woodson organized the African Education Society in order to provide education for African American children. The school not only taught the 3Rs, “’readin, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic, it also pioneered in the teaching of African American history. One of its graduates, Martin Robeson Delany, became a leading proponent of Black Nationalism.

In the tradition of Reverend Woodson, Pittsburgh continues to serve as a model for the teaching of Black History. In 2025, the Pittsburgh Public School District will require high school students to take an Ethnic Studies course. While ASALH is in Pittsburgh it will endorse and support the school district’s effort to become one of the few school districts in the nation to require such a course. ASALH will provide workshops and sessions on the teaching of Black History to support the school district’s progressive action to counter the national trend to restrict the teaching of courses that address the African American experience.

Pittsburgh also has a long history of African Americans excelling in the arts and making their mark on the nation’s artistic traditions. Three of the most productive and notable contributors to the arts in Pittsburgh were August Wilson, Charles “Teenie” Harris, and George Benson.

The award-winning playwright August Wilson made African American life in Pittsburgh the
central theme of his plays. He wrote ten plays that captured the history and life of African Americans in twentieth century America. He won all of the honors given to playwrights—Tonys, Drama Desk and Drama Critics awards—for his plays. Wilson won the awards because his plays captured what Harlem Renaissance writer Alain Locke characterized as the “drama of Negro life” in America and told the stories that the mainstream playwrights usually ignored. Charles “Teenie” Harris was the photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation’s oldest African American newspapers. Harris took over 125,000 photographs for the newspaper as well as for the city’s African Americans who wanted to document their lives for posterity. His photographs documented the city’s African American culture and history and showed visually how African Americans not only contributed to its arts, but also to its growth and development since the nineteenth century.

Another native of Pittsburgh who contributed to its African American arts tradition was jazz guitarist George Benson. Benson was a child prodigy and during his long career as a musician, he has won ten Grammy awards. His compositions ranged from the jazzy “Just Another Sunday” and “Breezin’” to the upbeat single “Give Me the Night” and the ballad “This Masquerade.”

I hope that you will join us in Pittsburgh for an exciting conference that will challenge the current opposition to “woke history” and promote the study and learning of the African American experience.



Marvin Dulaney

National President