Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s Year-Long Celebration of Black History in Pennsylvania

Black History in Pennsylvania: Communities in CommonLaunched with a public exhibition of the 1780 Act for Gradual Abolition of Slavery at The State Museum of Pennsylvania, PHMC’s theme for 2010, “Black History in Pennsylvania: Communities in Common,” was developed to bring heightened interpretation, emphasis, and educational resources to the public about the Keystone State’s pivotal role in African American history and its cultural heritage. Although the PHMC is working on a new theme for 2011, the information contained here continues to be useful as a vital resource for those interested in learning more about Black History in Pennsylvania.

As guidance for visitors, this Web site has been organized by the following sections:

Arts and Architecture
The legacy of African Americans goes beyond the traces of written documents and is embedded in our culture, arts, and buildings we enjoy today. From National Historic Landmarks to the sculpture of an individual, when voices were not part of the written word, the accomplishments through vision spoke volumes.

Beginnings
Pennsylvania possesses a rich, diverse, and intriguing African American history, ranging from enslaved Africans held by founder William Penn, to the trails to freedom throughout the state on the Underground Railroad, to the state’s role in the American Civil War, to its lead in the civil rights movement, and the significant contributions of Black scientists, artists, scholars, and public figures. Many of these important individual contributions are highlighted under “Beginnings” with PHMC’s Trailblazers program.

Change
School desegregation, abolition, freedom, labor issues, and civil rights, all are noted processes and outcomes of change in Black history. It’s these struggles, sacrifices, and successes that will continue to be featured and updated within the “Change” section of this Web site.

Communities
Expanding from the individual accomplishments of “Beginnings” to the movement and settlement of a people, the Black community continues to touch every part of the state, adding to the rich heritage shared, regardless of race or ethnicity. This is best revealed in PHMC’s featured contribution, developed throughout 2010, about the history and assessment of African American communities in Pennsylvania. Culminating in a study funded through a Preserve America grant, this rich resource published online will serve to both chronicle Black history and offer a template of information for other communities, to help them reclaim an important part of their heritage.

Empowerment
This section will cover the history of slavery and resistance and the transition through the Black civil rights movement. With the contributions of scholars and installments from PHMC’s flagship periodical, Pennsylvania Heritage,  the voices and instances of freedom and equality will teach, inspire, and educate.

Resources
Through the efforts of PHMC staff, in support of its outreach theme “Black History in Pennsylvania: Communities in Common,” this section compiles educational, research, and literary offerings which underscore African American heritage. Notice of new and ongoing theme events, State Archives finding aids to African American resources, oral histories, publications from PAbookstore.com, historical markers dedicated, and more are located here.