Please enjoy this article briefly summarizing the program this weekend sponsored at Meadowcroft Village by the Heinz History Center of Pittsburgh.
If you haven’t already please visit the Heinz History Center (a Smithsonian Institution affiliated museum) in Pittsburgh to see “From Slavery to Freedom.” While a few finishing touches on the exhibit are being made for a final polish in August of this year, the exhibit (which I was fortunate and blessed to have worked on with a stellar team of scholars, artists, and museum technicians and educators) gives the community in Pittsburgh community a window into the beginnings of African American history and its connections to colonial and antebellum Pittsburgh which went from a society with enslaved Africans to an early urban African American community precariously balanced between the slave states and the gateway to abolition. Under the guiding hand of Samuel Black, the curator, my role was to make suggestions on how we could incorporate foodways and food and medicinal lore into the greater narrative of slavery as a crucible of African American culture and the struggle to achieve equality and fulfill the American dream. Visitors will see the handiwork of the other scholars in dramatic figures inspired by the USCT (United States Colored Troops), original bills of sale and documents of abolition, genealogies and interactive touch screens where you can explore the places, people and routes used by freedom seekers in their passage through old Pittsburgh. The exhibit moves you from the past to the present as it discusses how this activity laid the groundwork for Pittsburgh’s African American communities in the Hill and Homewood leading to today’s African immigrant and African American populations in the contemporary city replete with positive and enduring contributions to the area’s growth and future. The Underground Railroad was not a thing it was a process, and this exhibit goes a long way to showing how that process was the sum total of all that came before it, while being foundational to what came after.