ASALH 2022  Outstanding Branch Programming Award

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. 

Ronald Brooks Saunders 
President Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch Association for the Study of African American Life and History 

Thirteenth Amendment Exception Clause

From the Desk of Ronald B Saunders, President of the Dr Edna B McKenzie Branch of ASALH

“Slavery didn’t end in 1865.  It just evolved.”

Bryan Stephenson, widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned.

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.

Ashe Ashe,

Ronald B. Saunders

Your Democracy Series Launch

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 Speak On Objective History

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

Carter G. Woodson

“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

Branch Spotlights

ASALH 2022 Branch of the Year Award

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.

The Intersection of Racism, Religion and Mental Health in Clinical Care

SATURDAY AUGUST 13, 2022 | 11:00AM – 1:30 PM ET


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.”

Program Objectives

  • 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”

Presenter Biography

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.


African American Palliative Care amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
Rev. John C. Welch, PhD, 2022

“For women of color, contending as they have with systemic racism, social injustice, and the right to control their own bodies, ensuring reproductive justice has been an urgent need for generations.”

Black Women’s Reproductive Health, Justice, and COVID-19 Complications in the United States,
Rev. Bernetta D. Welch, PhD, 2022

“The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a major health crisis across the globe. In the United States, and African Americans have been disproportionately impacted in terms of infections and deaths.”

DOI: 10.4324/9781003214281-32

Ivy League Institutions and the Legacy of Slavery

Harvard University

On April 26, 2022, Harvard President Larry Bacow released the Report of the Committee on Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery, accepted the committee’s recommendations in full, and announced a historic commitment of $100 million to fund their implementation.

A Short Film Introduction to Harvard’s Entanglements with Slavery

This short film offers an introduction to the first phase of the initiative’s work—the history—and is intended to be presented in the context of the committee’s recommendations for action.

Slavery in New England began when early colonists enslaved and sold Indigenous people, dispossessing them from the land.

Harvard was important to the region’s politics, society, and economy, and as slavery formed the basis of New England’s economic life, so it shaped Harvard.

There’s no separation from the world. There’s no place outside of history.

Princeton & Slavery Project: Holding the Center

By Martha A. Sandweiss and Craig Hollander

Princeton University, founded as the College of New Jersey in 1746, exemplifies the central paradox of American history. From the start, liberty and slavery were intertwined.

The Princeton & Slavery Project investigates the University’s involvement with the institution of slavery. It explores the slave-holding practices of Princeton’s early trustees and faculty members, considers the impact of donations derived from the profits of slave labor, and looks at the broader culture of slavery in the state of New Jersey, which did not fully abolish slavery until 1865.

Local Advertisement

Two Women, a Man, and Three Children: An advertisement announcing the estate sale of President Samuel Finley, held at the President’s House on campus.
July 31, 1776.

Article: Two Women, a Man and Three Children, July 31, 1776

Columbia University and Slavery

“Columbia University and Slavery” is a website created by faculty, students, and staff to publicly present information about Columbia’s historical connections to the institution of slavery.

Drawing on papers written by students in a seminar Professor Eric Foner directed in the spring of 2015 and another directed by Thai Jo­­­nes in the spring of 2016, all of which will soon be posted on this website, as well as Professor Foner’s research and relevant secondary sources. This report summarizes Columbia’s connections with slavery and with antislavery movements from the founding of King’s College to the end of the Civil War.  

Pulitzer Prize-winning History Professor Eric Foner: Preliminary Report

This report summarizes Columbia’s connections with slavery and with antislavery movements from the founding of King’s College to the end of the Civil War.  Significant gaps remain in our knowledge, and investigations into the subject, as well as into the racial history of the university after 1865, will continue.

MIT’s Connections to Slavery 

New research from an MIT history class scholars and administrators is designed to examine the legacy of slavery in relationship to the university. Findings show founder William Barton Rogers possessed enslaved persons in his Virginia household until the early 1850s before founding MIT.

“Our founder was a slave owner,” says Craig Steven Wilder

Barton L. Weller Professor of History at MIT and a leading expert on the links between universities and slavery. Given how often such institutions drew personnel and material support from wealthy families that had profited from slavery, “people shouldn’t be surprised that MIT has these connections,” Wilder notes.

Celebrating Future Vision: Women of Vision

Women of Vision Exhibition at Carnegie Museum of Art Hall of Sculpture

Milli Mickle, member of the Dr. Edna B Mckenzie ASALH branch, is exhibiting a painting in the Women of Visions exhibit called the “Future Visions” at the Carnegie Museum. The exhibit runs from May 28 to June 12. The Carnegie Museum is located at 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh Pa. 15213.

Women of Visions, Inc. is a historic collective of African American women visual artists in Pittsburgh and a contemporary organization of artists supporting the community and each other through exhibitions, education, mentorship, and professional development.

Note this is the first time in Carnegie’s 126 year history that there has ever been an exhibit by a collective of Black female artists. These women are among the best painters in the world and we have a rare opportunity to avail ourselves of their magnificent art.

A public and free celebration for the exhibition, Future Vision: Women of Visions, is scheduled for June 2 from 6-9 PM in the Carnegie Museum of Art Hall of Sculpture.

Milli Mickle is a professor of English at Penn State University, Greater Allegheny Campus located in McKeesport Pa.

Women of Visions: The artwork and experiences of 22 women on display

See the University Art Gallery’s (UAG) longest-running Black women’s exhibit through the eyes of Pitt student and film, sociology and Africana studies triple major, Tierney Washington, as she explores the artwork in Frick Fine Arts accompanied by Women of Visions President, Christine Bethea, and the UAG Director, Sylvia Rhor Samaniego.

Lessons from Harriet Tubman: A Historical Perspective

The Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch of the Association for the Study of African
American Life and History and The Harriet Tubman Guild, Inc. Presents

A Bicentennial Celebration, 1822-2022
Lessons from Harriet Tubman: A Historical Perspective

Saturday, May 14, 2022
Zoom Virtual Meeting
11 AM – 1 PM ET

Join Reverend Dr. Judith C. Moore, Founder of Sisters Saving Ourselves, Now and Convener of Black Women Roundtable, Pittsburgh/MonValley for a moderated discussion to celebrate and honor Harriet Tubman’s bicentennial anniversary from 1822-2022. Learn how academic scholars, key stakeholders and descendants of Harriet Tubman are working collectively to build upon her legacy in American history as a Black woman.

Rita Daniels a direct descendant of Ms. Harriet Tubman, is President & Founder of The HarrietTubman Learning Center (HTLC). Mrs. Daniels will discuss the topic, “Keep Going! Why the Harriet Tubman Learning Center is important.”

Patrick McShea is the Manager of Museum Educational Loan Program, from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History Education Division. Mr. McShea will discuss Harriet Tubman’s role as a naturalist.

Kara Whitfield, President and Maxine Engram, a Past President of the Harriet Tubman Guild of Pittsburgh will discuss their organization’s role in Allegheny County.

From Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of History in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, we have Dr. Edda L. Fields Black, an Associate Professor who will contribute to the discussion of Ms. Tubman.

Finally, we will hear the presentation entitled, “The Incredible Life and Legacy of Harriet Tubman,” by Ranger Angela Crenshaw from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Happy Mothers Day

From the Desk of the President

Dear Members and Friends,

On behalf of the officers of the Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch, Association for the Study of African American Life and History, I wish all mothers a spirit filled Happy Mothers Day. 

Strong mothers, women and girls had to use all of their ingenuity. strength, and intelligence to navigate and survive the dreaded Middle Passage to the Americas. The mothers, women and girls aboard those horrible wicked slave ships and enslaved on Antebellum Plantations and throughout the Thirteen Colonies didn’t have a manual on life that advised them on how to survive in a sweltering sea of colonization.

These mothers knew there would be a much brighter day as they were guided by the spirit and love of their ancestors.

Indigenous women, mothers of the Americas in concert with African women and European women were strong women who passed on a great legacy of enduring hard work to their respective daughters.

Mothers, women and girls in the Thirteen Colonies had to perform back breaking difficult jobs, tasks and chores. However, when the U. S Constitution was ratified, women were not included as equals in the original compact and Africans were legally enshrined as Three Fifths of a person. 

Indigenous tribe women, African free and enslaved women were constantly under siege throughout the Thirteen Colonies but still they would persevere.

Strong mothers are in essence a true gift to the world and so on this Mother’s Day  and everyday let us honor and praise the work of all mothers.

Ronald B. Saunders, President Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch ASALH