Upcoming Branch Event – December 17, 2022 at 11:00 AM ET
Sponsored by The Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History & The Pittsburgh Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society
“How Well Do You Know Dr. Carter G. Woodson?” A Celebration of Carter G. Woodson’s 147th Birthday 12-19-1875 to 12-19-2022
Presentation by Carl Redwood,Descendant of Carter G. Woodson Chair, Hill District Consensus Group Project Director, Pittsburgh Black Worker Center
Meet Carl Redwood, Jr… A social worker who has participated in various community organizing efforts on the local, national, and international levels. He has been a part time faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work for many years. Carl was a union organizer for faculty unionization at Pittsburgh Universities as part of the Academic Workers Association of the Steelworkers.
Carl is active with the Hill District Consensus Group working to build the leadership and power of low-income and working-class residents of the Hill District to advance racial and economic justice in our neighborhoods, our schools and our city. Carl serves on the board of Pittsburgh United, a coalition of community, labor, faith, and environmental organizations committed to advancing the vision of a community and economy that work for all people. He is also a board member of The Abolitionist Law Center, a public interest law firm inspired by the struggle of political and politicized prisoners and organized for the purpose of abolishing class and race-based mass incarceration in the United States.
The Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch of Pittsburgh PA has been selected to receive the ASALH 2022 Outstanding Branch Programming Award
How befitting that our Branch would receive this award in its tenth anniversary year!
I am quite confident that Dr. Edna B. McKenzie is very much pleased with our work and is smiling down at us on our achievement. This was a great team effort from all members of the Executive Board, other McKenzie members and from our excellent technical team led by Tammy Saunders and her aunt Gwendolyn Howze.
I would like to thank all of the presenters, lecturers, collaborators, partners and the Pittsburgh Chapter AAHGS, Dr. Ida Jones VP Membership of ASALH all of who played a significant role with reference to our programming for the last two years.
The McKenzie Branch is an integral part of the Tree built by Dr. Carter G. Woodson with the founding of ASALH in 1915. The work we do in all the Branches of ASALH is to honor the legacy of Dr. Woodson by providing rich programs of substance and content to keep alive the enduring important work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the mission of ASALH.
Our Branch received two powerful nominations from Dr. Stephanie Boddie, Assistant Professor of Church and Community Ministries at Baylor University and Dr. Artie Travis, Vice President for Student Affairs, Frostburg State University in Frostburg Maryland. Thank you Dr. Boddie and Dr. Travis for your respective nominations for our Branch.
Sincerely, Ronald Brooks Saunders President Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch Association for the Study of African American Life and History
Personal Transformation Expert, International Bestselling Author, Professional Speaker, and Founder/CEO The Place to SOAR.
VP Media Relations for the Dr. Edna B.McKenzie Branch of ASALH
A Virtual Event Presented by Anita D Russell
“Antiracism activation is a verb. It is sustainable grassroots movement tied to generational leadership.”
Anita’s journey towards antiracism activation begins with her George Floyd origin story and the Cairo Questions: Will Cairo have to protest in his lifetime for the birthright to freely and peacefully exist in the skin in which he was born?
Anita’s work since 2020 has been greatly influenced by Dr. Robert Livingston of Harvard University, and author of The Conversation: How Seeking and Speaking the Truth Can Radically Transform Individuals and Organizations. She has developed an Activism through Coaching Model build on personal transformation and four basics tenets : courage, conversation, relationship, and accountability.
Antiracism activation is tied to generational leadership and influence
The virtual experience, First Annual Antiracism Activation Summit 2023, is created for the express purpose of highlighting work currently being done by individuals, entrepreneurs, organizations, businesses, and educators whose antiracism activation work originated, was enhanced by, or expanded in response to the culminating moment of the murder of George Floyd. Fifteen featured speakers come together to share their origin story of how they stand with George Floyd posthumously to fulfill his dream and purpose to change the world.
“The picture that emerged from the series and our subsequent year of reporting is that of a man facing extraordinary struggles with hope and optimism, a man who managed to do in death what he so desperately wanted to achieve in life: change the world.”
Black Health and Wellness Embedded in the History of Montgomery Alabama
Description The personal recap of the 3-day ASALH Meeting & Conference 2022 hosted in historic Montgomery Alabama is presented through the lens of two branch members: Eli M. Kirshner and Anita Russell.
Eli M. Kirshner, Branch Member Eli operates the genealogical and historical research business, ExploreStory, which specializes in African-American family history, Jewish family history, and historical trauma/reparations.
My Experience at ASALH 2022: Black Health and Wellness Day 1
This was the first day of the conference. Everything felt so new and exciting for me. I attended a session in the morning where several historians presented their papers related to Black Healing and Resistance.
Ms. Anne Sherrell Bouie, an independent historian, spoke about how enslaved African-Americans utilized garden plots as both a source for survival (e.g. growing food) and for their own autonomy. Ms. Bouie highlighted that gardens, and the traditions related to their upkeep, “created a safe space … and also a functional space.” She referenced her own grandmother’s routine of sweeping the yard and taking diligent care of that important space. Ms. Bouie talked about how enslaved people created “family out of no family,” creating kinship ties that were spiritual and not just biological; Bouie provided historical context for the origins of play cousins, uncles/aunts etc.
Next, I attended a really interesting roundtable discussion titled “Traces of Black Health and Wellness in the Archives of Enslavement.” Dr. Mary Niall Mitchell from the University of New Orleans presented about the Freedom on the Move project – which centers the themes empowerment and liberation in its digitization of newspaper articles from the Antebellum south with wanted ads for freedom-seekers. Dr. Mitchell spoke about teaching such articles as primary sources for grade school students. She also discussed the Hard History framework and her work with K-12 educators.
Dr. Dallas Hanbury, the archivist for Montgomery County, Alabama, analyzed the data of the 1860 U.S. Census Slave Schedule for its use of four health conditions, several with severely outdated terms (i.e. blind, deaf/dumb, insanity, idiocy). He also showed us examples of doctor’s bills in estate files of white enslaver families as a means to learn about the physical and mental health/wellness of enslaved individuals who appear in probate records.
I had the true honor and privilege to attend the first day’s luncheon, and hear a moving appeal from the venerable Mr. Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative. Mr. Stevenson called on all of us to tell the truth about U.S. history without fear, countering that “silence is not a pathway to strength.” He shared examples of the reconciliation tribunals in post-Apartheid South Africa and in Germany after the Holocaust – and how the steps taken to tell the truth about what happened in these countries have not been taken here in the United States.
For example, Mr. Stevenson made the powerful point that “you will not find any Hitler statues in Germany, or statues of the perpetrators of the Holocaust. Yet, in Alabama, Jefferson Davis’ birthday is a state holiday, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is also Robert E. Lee Day, and our landscape is littered with statues of Confederate Generals.” Mr. Stevenson assessed the outcome of the U.S. Civil War as such: “the North won the war, but the South won the narrative war.” Mr. Stevenson reminded us that when we use the “r-words,” like repair, reconciliation, reparations, we tend to look over the fact that hard part – the truth-telling – must come first. He alluded to the fear that many whites in the United States have about confronting theirs and their ancestors’ racist violence and terrorism and/or complicity with it.
Mr. Stevenson used this vantage point to frame his thoughts on much of the racist backlash to the 1619 Project, for example. Mr. Stevenson spoke about what it was like to create the National Memorial for Peace and Justice here in Montgomery – which commemorates the thousands of names of victims of lynching in the U.S. He also pointed out that the Great Migration is often overly categorized as a mass internal human migration of African-Americans between 1915-1975 to pursue economic opportunity, but not sufficiently as a massive refugee exodus of people fleeing racial terrorism at the hands of whites. For instance, Mr. Stevenson described the tenements on the South Side of Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s as “refugee camps.”
In analyzing his own career as a tireless advocate for justice and as someone who tells the truth about mass incarceration and its roots in enslavement, Mr. Stevenson shared his own painful personal experiences: being racially profiled by judges, prosecutors, and others in the courtroom over the years who look at him and assume he is a defendant, as opposed to an attorney for the defense. “[As a Black American], navigating…the presumption [by whites] of guilt and criminality, for years and years, is exhausting,” Mr. Stevenson powerfully laid out.
From a genealogical perspective, Mr. Stevenson told us a story about when his grandmother took him as a boy to a one room cabin in a rural field and told him, “just listen.” Her father was born into slavery, in that very cabin. Finally, Mr. Stevenson delivered a reminder to never forget that we live on the grounds of genocide of millions of indigenous people by white Europeans, and we must always tell the truth about this as well.
Anita Russell, VP Media Relations of Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch of ASALH Anita is the Founder/CEO of the Place to SOAR LLC, a social enterprise dedicated to personal transformation, activism through coaching, and antiracism activation.
My Experience at ASALH 2022: Embedded in the History Montgomery Alabama Day 1
The ASALH 107th Annual Meeting & Conference represented a major personal milestone for me. While this was my second time attending the meeting and conference live, it was my first time being in the city of Montgomery Alabama. The first thing on my agenda upon arrival was the Montgomery Bus Tour.
Unfortunately, the tour ran a bit behind schedule and we were unable to attend The Legacy Museum without missing the luncheon featuring Bryan Stevenson as the keynote speaker under the title Social Justice at ASALH with Bryan Stevenson, Equal Justice Today and Beyond.
The culminating experience of Day 1 up to this point came when I heard the words of Mr. Bryan Stevenson, civil rights attorney, social justice activist, and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. His words flowed across the audience like living water for all to soak up the truth hidden in full view.
He spoke about the need to speak the truth about U.S. history without fear, stressing the danger of silence. He shared examples of truth and reconciliation in post-Apartheid South Africa and post-Holocaust Germany, emphasizing that such efforts have been lacking in the United States. He shared his own personal story as an advocate for social justice and learning from his grandmother to just listen and allow the past to speak to you.
All of this infused deeper into my 21st century consciousness, the importance of the historical context of lived experiences—embedding itself in my identity as a Black human being living in America. At the end of the luncheon I was compelled to return to The Legacy Museum for the part of the bus tour that had been cut short.
Leaving The Legacy Museum and walking back to the conference site this is how I felt in recounting the events of the day:
Mothers of Gynecology Monument to Enslaved Women Who Endured Experiments “These women were tortured for the sake of healthcare and have been left out of the conversation,” Browder says of the enslaved women she honors in a new sculpture and mural…”
The Father of Gynecology… (I won’t event mention the name) “Well, what about the mothers?” asks Artist Michelle Browder. This glorious metal garden of Black womanhood, motherhood, and humanhood pays tribute to the magnificence of the female body in its ability to carry, nurture, and bring forth life by design. It is a monument to enslaved women, enduring experiments conceived at the whim of an establishment that neither understood, respected, nor honored the magnificence of Black womanhood, motherhood, or humanhood. Indeed, what about the mothers of gynecology?
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice: National Lynching Memorial “On a six-acre site atop a rise overlooking Montgomery, the national lynching memorial is a sacred space for truth-telling and reflection about racial terror in America and its legacy.”
Jars of soil from floor to ceiling, representing names and souls, on date after date, in city after city, in state after state, of lynchings across America.
How do you look yourselves in the eyes, when much of your existence is based on the lies embedded in a belief system called white supremacy? How do you look at souls in jars and not be moved towards eradication of the lies embedded in a belief system called white supremacy? What’s wrong with your eyes that you can’t see the lies?
I am as different from you as night is from day as the moon is from the sun as a star is from a planet as God is from humanity because I can’t look at souls in jars and remain inactive or not weep for a nation so mired in racism, violence and fear, that I deny those very souls.
My ancestors call for me to do and be better than that. As I walked among the suspended pylons of historical narrative, I read name after name, on date after date, in city after city, in state after state, of lynchings across America.
I walked, sinking deeper and deeper into the abyss of racial hatred, violence, fear, and intimidation, radiating outward from the nucleus of white supremacy. Name after name, on date after date, in city after city, in state after state, of lynchings across America.
Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration “…a one-of-a-kind opportunity to investigate America’s history of racial injustice and its legacy — to draw dynamic connections across generations of Americans impacted by the tragic history of racial inequality.”
The Legacy Museum is quite near the rail station and the town center, where tens of thousands of Black people were trafficked during the 19th century. Passing through the sea of the middle passage riddled with lives and souls on the ocean floor. Whose parents were they? Whose children were they? Whose cousin, nephew, niece, auntie, uncle, or grandparent were they? Did you even ask who they were?
Parenthetically speaking, to dehumanize others, you first dehumanize yourself. Self-dehumanization is the invisible fallout of the belief system of white supremacy.
How can you look into the face of parents, children, cousins, nephews, nieces, aunties, uncles, or grandparents and deny their humanity without sacrificing your own? How can you turn a blind eye and deny the work of lies in your thoughts, beliefs, and ideas? How can you turn a blind eye and deny the work of lies in your words, actions, and behaviors? Don’t you see—it all emerges from the handiwork of racial hatred, violence, fear, and intimidation.
Infant. The word creates a haunting image in my mind, body, and spirit. An infant among the count of lynching victims. And again, I say, parenthetically speaking, to dehumanize others you first dehumanize yourself. Self-dehumanization is the invisible fallout of the belief system of white supremacy.
It is destruction from the inside out, operating under the great lies of false supremacy and false superiority. It’s there, hidden in plain view. Don’t you see it? All it takes is to open your eyes…
Film Festival: The Belly of the Beast “This shocking legal drama captured over 7 years features extraordinary access and intimate accounts from currently and formerly incarcerated people, demanding attention to a shameful and ongoing legacy of eugenics and reproductive injustice in the United States.”
The last thing I did on Day 1 was attend the ASALH Film Festival featuring the film “Belly of the Beast” directed by Erika Cohn. Watching the film, I connected it back to The Mothers of Gynecology exhibit I visited earlier in the day. The film is an exposé of human rights abuses in the criminal justice system of California. It reflects the legacy of eugenics, forced sterilization, and reproductive injustice that prevails in the system of incarceration in the United States.
I had a lot to think about as I lay my head down for the night.
“We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others. The closer we get to mass incarceration and extreme levels of punishment, the more I believe it’s necessary to recognize that we all need mercy, we all need justice, and-perhaps-we all need some measure of unmerited grace.”
The Thirteenth Amendment Exception Clause to the United States Constitution has fueled the largest robust prison population in the world which is disproportionately African American and Latino American.
The Exception Clause to the Thirteenth Amendment was intentionally inserted into said Constitution to satisfy the leftover remnants of the slavocracy class such as the cotton planters and other planters who had been devastated by their most significant profit loses. Thus we have been living with this gross intentional ambiguity in the language of the Thirteenth Amendment with the Exception Clause since 1865.
As we move forward in the 21st Century, we as a people and as a nation can ill afford to have this Exception Clause in said Constitution which is an embarrassment to our ancestors for their 246 years of hard harsh uncompensated labor.
Wherein the United States of America has the sole unique distinction of being the only country in the world that has legally enshrined slavery into its Constitution for the punishment of a crime with its ambiguous Exception Clause to the Thirteenth Amendment.
It will take a movement of the people to finally abolish slavery in the United States Constitution and in the various State Constitutions. This fall, voters in Alabama, Louisiana, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont will decide on state constitutional amendments prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, in some cases except for work by incarcerated people.
Three states-Colorado, Nebraska and Utah have approved similar ballot initiatives since 2018 which is great. About 20 State constitutions have exception clauses that allow either for slavery or involuntary servitude as punishment for crime.
We need to break the back of the Prison-Industrial Complex by abolishing and eliminating all of the slavery loophole language in the United States Constitutions in the various State Constitutions. Both of the main political parties in this two party duopoly system take contributions from corporations who use prison labor.
This upcoming mid-term election is going to be one of the most important elections in history. The next Congress will shape polices for decades to come.
Upcoming Event: Elections Have Consequences
The Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch is most proud to Co-Sponsor an upcoming event with the Alpha Alpha Omega Chapter of AKA on October 13th at 7 PM at Carlow University in Pittsburgh PA.
More details to come…
I would like to thank Dr. Stephanie Boddie, Assistant Professor of Church and Community Ministries at Baylor University and Dr. Artie Travis, Vice President of Student Affairs, Frostburg State University in Frostburg Maryland for nominating our Branch for the Branch of the Year Award. I would like to thank all the executive officers and Branch members for making it possible for our Branch to be selected as Branch of the Year in ASALH for 2022. Your continued support and donations are most appreciated.
The work we do in all the Branches of ASALH is to honor the legacy of Dr. Carter G. Woodson by providing rich programs of substance and content to keep alive the enduring most important work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the mission of ASALH.
The Branches of ASALH are a most significant part of the tree built by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Good roots bear good trees and good trees bear good fruit and Branches.
Author Gloria J. Browne-Marshall explores the U.S. Constitution from an African American context
Thursday, September 15, 2022.
Prof. Browne-Marshall, Visiting Professor and Resident Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School from John Jay College (CUNY) and playwright is the host of “Your Democracy,” an animated series on the U.S. Constitution, and creator of “The U.S. Constitution: An African American Context,” now in its fourth edition. Portions of “Your Democracy” will be shown. “This is about empowerment,” says Browne-Marshall. “Knowing more about the power of a document that touches our lives on a daily basis.”
Black Historians Know There’s No Such Thing as Objective History
Recent critiques of “presentism” fail to see that we can’t divorce the past from the present—and that supposedly objective scholarship has long promoted racist narratives and suppressed Black history.
Keisha N. Blain, Professor of Africana Studies and History at Brown University and Columnist for MSNBC/September 9, 2022
“Societal change is impossible, Woodson argued, when we fail to interrogate the standard accounts of history and other fields of study. Telling “neutral” historical accounts of egregious practices such as slavery and lynching serves a fundamental purpose—to excuse injustices of the present and thereby maintain systems of oppression. It is a form of purposeful amnesia designed to empower oppressors.” —Keisha N. Blain
Congratulations to the Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch of ASALH!
The branch structure of ASALH reflects Carter G. Woodson’s belief that our mission, to create and disseminate knowledge about Black history, could not be realized solely by academics. He envisioned branches as a means of extending ASALH’s reach across the country and beyond. Branches collect primary materials about Black History to celebrate national and local African American achievers and local and national happenings. Invitations are extended to members and to the public to participate in theme-based events, programs and activities. Branches attend monthly membership meetings, support Annual Meeting and Conferences, and other National initiatives.
You Never Know: External Contribution Award May 2022
Ronald B. Saunders, President of the Dr. Edna B McKenzie Branch of ASALH: Recognition from Frostburg State University
Ronald B. Saunders, President of the Edna B McKenzie Branch of ASALH was recently awarded the Inaugural Class of Vice Presidents “You Never Know” at Frostburg State University. “It is a distinct honor and privilege to receive such prestigious recognition. On behalf of the Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch of ASALH, we have welcomed Frostburg State University’s partnership and collaboration. I would be remiss not to acknowledge fellow members and executive officers of ASALH who have contributed to educational efforts on your campus as well.”
First Gwen Elliot Women’s Empowerment Award Recipient April 2022
Rev. B. De Neise Welch, PhD and Chaplain of the Dr. Edna B McKenzie Branch of ASALH
Congratulation to Rev. B. De Neise Welch, PhD and Chaplain of the Dr. Edna B McKenzie Branch of ASALH!
Out of 6 nominees Rev. Dr. Welch stood out. The committee voted unanimously to select her as our first awardee. She represents the mission and goals of our organization as well as embodies the essence of the woman in which our award is named.1st annual Gwen Elliott Empowerment Award. The recipient of this award was chosen based on the following criteria:
A woman who currently lives and/or works in the greater Pittsburgh area and has improved services or conditions for women within her profession, community, or public through service. A woman, who has demonstrated a willingness to serve and assist other women in their personal and professional development and contributed to the successes of others as well as her own. A woman leader, who has empowered other women to excel through education, career development, the arts, or entrepreneurship. A woman, who has inspired other women through her acts of kindness and generosity.
The money raised from this annual event is used to provide at least 2 scholarship with a minimum of $500 to a female high school senior who is entering her freshman year in college or an adult woman returning to college or in a program to advance her career. This year we were able to give two $1,000 scholarships to two high school seniors entering their freshman year of college.
Rev. Dr. John Welch, Pastor, Scholar, Author, Speaker, and Thought Leader
Rev. Dr. Welch will present his seminal work, “The Intersection of Racism, Religion and Mental Health in Clinical Care.” This timely keynote will explore the following:
“Stigmatized groups and particularly African Americans have been victims of chronic racialized trauma for centuries resulting from a variety of social determinants. This trauma has had negative health implications not excluding mental health challenges leading to complex patient/provider interactions and palliative therapies often unaddressed.”
How racialized trauma affects African American patients’ health (including mental health) and interactions with healthcare providers
How religious and spiritual beliefs affect African American patients’ seeking/not-seeking mental healthcare
How religious/faith institutions have themselves perpetrated and perpetuated racism
How religious beliefs influence Black patients’ healthcare decisions and interactions with healthcare providers
How clinicians need to disentangle a patient’s response to racism from her/his religious responses when that clinician is seeking to understand a patient’s decision making”
Rev. Dr. John C. Welch comes with a wide variety of experience in corporate, ecclesial, and higher education environments. Most recently, Dr.Welch spent almost 14-years as Vice
President for Student Services, Community Engagement and Dean of Students at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary where he oversaw the administration of over $1 million in annual student grants and scholarships. Dr. Welch also led seminary students in cross-cultural, socio-political engagement opportunities in the Caribbean, Mexico, Colombia, and South Africa with the hope of expanding student global awareness and improving cultural competence.
Beyond this work, John recently completed a 5-year strategic business plan for a faith-based nonprofit, conducted seminars and trainings to church leaders, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in the areas of ethics, burnout, moral distress, long term care,implicit bias, and institutional racism.
John has served as an adjunct professor of Business Ethics at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business and the University of Pittsburgh’s Consortium Ethics Program as well as an adjunct professor of Theology at Carlow University. Currently, he sits on the Ethics Committees for major health networks and has offered his expertise in response to Covid-19 infections by designing engagement strategies to low-income communities of color and other marginalized populations including immigrants and LGBTQ, addressing vaccination hesitancy andcommunity spread.
Furthermore, John has led several nonprofit boards and currently is Chair of the Board of Directors for the Gamaliel Network, an international organization specializing in faith-based community organizing. Additionally, John has over 22-years of experience as a consultant in the field of Information Technology, 27-years in ordained ministry serving Presbyterian and Baptist congregations.
A native of Pittsburgh, John holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering & Economics, a Master of Divinity degree, and a PhD in Healthcare Ethics.