Heritage Museum's Black History celebrations treasure artifacts passed through generations
By Julie Martin
Published: Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
While its items come from afar, the exhibit of African artifacts at the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Heritage Museum carries a message that hits close to home, according to Howard Clements, who has loaned the pieces to the museum for Black History Month.
“How important it is to have artifacts,” the widely traveled Upper Burrell resident says. “How important it is to treasure family heirlooms.”
“You never know how valuable something is until you see it somewhere.”
That may be the case even for Clements, who has been sharing his collection of tribal masks and other items with the museum each February since the program began more than a decade ago.
“I'm thankful that I'm participating,” he says. “To whom more is given, more is expected of them. That's the way I look at it.
“You can contribute something positive for the communities.”
The arts collector believes that by taking in the exhibit, which includes items from countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, museum patrons will be able to see items from their own family history — and that of others — in a new light.
He has a message for patrons in the Alle-Kiski and beyond:
“Just hold on to everything that is passed down through the family from generation to generation,” he says. “Take pride in everybody's culture, not just your own.”
In addition to the display of Clements' artifacts, the museum has on loan items from New Kensington Camera Club member Tommy West. That display features artifacts, books and artwork relating to black history.
The exhibit runs through the end of the month.
To further celebrate black history, the museum is hosting an event organized and sponsored by members of about a half-dozen local churches.
Scheduled at 3 p.m. Sunday, the program features music and liturgical dance from church members and a number of presentations. After the free program, there will be a reception with hors d'oeuvres and refreshments.
Clements and West will speak about the items on loan. Wilson's preentation will focus on “Celebrating Blacks in Pittsburgh Sports and Entertainment.”
“It's a very, very interesting program,” says Dolly Mistrik, president of the historical society. “This is one of our best-attended events.”
One of the secrets to its success is the sense of fellowship found in the program, according to organizer Loretta Howell of Bethel African American Methodist Episcopal Church in Tarentum.
The fellowship promotes not only a warm reception, but also a diverse one.
“You can tell people are enjoying it, because when it's over, they stick around,” Howell says. “They stay and chat in different groups. It's not all Caucasians or African-Americans or Latinos.”
Black history programming at the museum began more than a decade ago, prompted by historical-society board member, the late Ruth Johnson.
“She had such a great love for the museum, for education and for African-American history,” Howell says.
The program's popularity is evident. Each year, as the program grows, it's clear to Howell that its message connects with the 100 or more who attend.
“Just looking at the people whenever we're going through the program, you can see the smiles and the relaxation,” she says. “People truly enjoy the things that we have.”
Julie Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- A-K Valley students offer Franklin Regional ‘strong’ support
- Leechburg adds 2 part-time police officers
- Bronze flower vases stolen from Lower Burrell cemetery
- Burrell school board reviews security plan
- Agreement nears on Springdale police chief’s duties
- Cheswick fire truck to arrive in June
- Experts: Cold weather requires A-K Valley residents to check gardens
- Youngest of 3 Hays eaglets eating as parents have provided a lot of food
- Oakmont council OKs Speedway project
- Stork has arrived at Harmar eagle nest
- Peregrine falcons hang around Tarentum Bridge