Black History Month at UPB Features Giovanni, Knowles and Faculty

Nikki Giovanni and Matthew Knowles. Photos courtesy University of Pittsburgh-Bradford.

BRADFORD, Pa. – The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford will celebrate Black History Month with online talks, discussions and concerts from renowned poet Nikki Giovanni, music executive Mathew Knowles and Pitt-Bradford faculty.
To sign up for events or find out more about Black History Month at Pitt-Bradford, visit All events listed are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

Keynote speakers Giovanni, an internationally known poet, writer and social justice activist, and music industry leader Knowles will take place from 5 to 6 p.m. on Feb. 11 and 18, respectively.

Giovanni is a seven-time NAACP Image Award winner and the first recipient of the Rosa Parks Women of Courage Award. She holds the Langston Hughes Medal for Outstanding Poetry and is the author of 28 books, many of which have appeared on the Best Seller lists of the New York and Los Angeles Times – highly unusual for a poet.

She has written across genres from militant Black poetry to children’s literature. Since 1987, she has taught writing and literature at Virginia Tech.

Giovanni will talk about her work in a brief interview with Dr. Emily Williams, vice president and dean of academic affairs at Pitt-Bradford, before discussing and reading from her newest publication, “Make Me Rain.”

Knowles will have a discussion with Williams and present “Harmonizing Your Work Force with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategies and Working in the Digital Age During and after COVID.”

Knowles is the founder of Music World Entertainment and Artist Management. He has served as executive producer for more than 100 award-winning platinum and gold albums in multiple genres, including pop, R&B, gospel, dance, and country, as well as soundtracks and special-themed projects.

Sales of records he has produced have exceeded 450 million worldwide, and the artists he has worked with include Chaka Khan, Earth Wind & Fire, The O’Jays, Destiny’s Child, and his daughters, Solange and Beyoncé.

Pitt-Bradford faculty will also share their knowledge during the month.

From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 18, a faculty panel will discuss “Why Didn’t you know This Part of our History?” Stephanie Eckstrom, instructor of sociology and Master of Social Work program coordinator, will discuss “The Combahee River Collective: Activist Practice and Academic Theory.” Dr. Adam Lee Cilli, assistant professor of history, will present “Robert L. Vann, The Pittsburgh Courier, and the 1932 Presidential Election,” and Dr. Drew Flanigan, visiting assistant professor of history, will present “The Dumas Family in a Revolutionary Age: 1762 – 1870.”

At 8 p.m. Feb. 19, the Marilyn Horne Museum and Exhibit Center will present a virtual performance by Cameroonian-American mezzo-soprano Veena Akama-Makia, an award-winning vocalist who has studied and performed in America and abroad. The performance will include works by Florence Price, Antonin Dvořák, Margaret Bonds, and Francesco Santoliquido.

From noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 23, a faculty will discuss Reform and Revolution in 20th Century Black Politics. Dr. Drew Flanagan, visiting assistant professor of history, will present “The Harlem Renaissance Goes East: Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, and the Global Cold War.” Dr. Adam Lee Cilli, assistant professor of history, will present “Homer Brown and the Black Reform Community in Pittsburgh,” and Dr. Tasha Alton, chief diversity and inclusion officer, will present “Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois: The Story, the Meaning, and the Legacy of Social Justice.”

Finally, at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24, Orin James will look at the work of Jackie Ormes, the first nationally recognized African American woman cartoonist. Born Aug. 1, 1911, in Pittsburgh, Ormes honed her drawing and created the cartoon strip, “Torchy Brown in Dixie to Harlem.” With great humor, Ormes used this art form to convey the experiences of southern Black people moving northward during the Great Migration in America. This strip eventually was produced nationally.