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

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.

University of Pittsburgh Africana Studies Awards Ceremony

April 2, 2022

April 2, 2022 University of Pittsburgh Department of Africana Studies

On April 2nd, the Department of Africana Studies hosted Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, Keynote Speaker, followed by an awards ceremony, honoring important individuals and associates of the department. 

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of  African & African-American Studies

Dr. Neal is the James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of  African & African-American Studies and Professor of English, and the author of the new book Black Ephemera: The Crisis and Challenge of the Musical Archive (NYU, March 2022). Dr. Neal is also the author of five books, including What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Public Culture; Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture; the Post-Soul Aesthetic and Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities; and That’s The Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader (co-edited with Murray Forman).

Presentation Title: “Hello Stranger”: Fugitive Analogs and Maroon Interiorities in the Black Digital Archive

“Foregrounding the archival work of the Black Audio Film Collective and LA Rebellion, the filmmakers Barry Jenkins and Denzel Washington, playwright August Wilson, and the music of Dinah Washington and Jimmy Scott, this talk will explore the continued reliance and presence of analog archives in the so-called Black Digital Era. These presences, which might be thought of as hauntings, function as fugitive and maroon archives. “

Department of Africana Studies

Awards Ceremony 


  • African American Program at Senator John Heinz History Center – Sam Black, Director
  • Mrs. Rena Amos 
  • Dr. Edna B. Mackenzie Branch of Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASALH) – Ronald B. Saunders, President
  • Mr. Fred Logan
  • Pittsburgh Chapter of The Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society (AAHGS) – Marlene Bransom, President 
  • Mr. Sala Udin 

[View Mr. Ronald B Saunders acceptance remarks at 23:48 – 27:37 minutes in the video below]

April 2022 Call for Papers

ASALH 2022 Annual Meeting & Virtual Conference: September 29 – October 1

The theme for 2022 focuses on the importance of Black Health and Wellness. This theme acknowledges the various ways health and wellness can be described, including, but not limited, to medical health, mental health, nutrition, body positivity, financial wellness, creative arts, and physical activity. Additionally, it is important to note the intersection between financial wellness and medical and mental wellbeing.

The submission deadlines for proposals are as follows: 

  • Early Bird Submissions will be accepted via All Academic until March 18, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. (EST).
  • Conditional acceptance responses to Early Bird submissions will be sent out by April 18, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. (EST).
  • After this date, the committee will accept all submissions until the deadline of April 30, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. (EST).

Pennsylvania Historical Association: Health and Resiliency in the Commonwealth and Mid-Atlantic

Full session proposals are preferred, but individual papers will be considered. PHA membership is required to present at the 2022 annual meeting.

Proposals must be submitted electronically by April 15, 2022, to https://pa-history.org/meetings/

The conference will be held October 13-15, 2022, at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. For more information, please contact Dr. Andrew Simpson, Associate Professor of History, Duquesne University at simpson4@duq.edu.

Drum & Pot: Health, Wellness, & Food in Traditional African Society

ASALH 2022 Theme: Black Health & Wellness

Keynote Speaker: C. R. Gibbs
Author | Scholar | Speaker

Saturday, April 9, 2022
11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Virtual Meeting via ZOOM

Lecture Description: This presentation is a sweeping exploration of the ways that African people began to take care of themselves, develop wellness philosophies and products and respond to the challenges of existing in extremely diverse and sometimes hostile environments.

Often shown as a land of privation and despair, Africa, before colonization, developed innovative strategies to protect the human body from disease, extend life, and  pioneer good nutrition as well as influence kitchen traditions around the globe.

Mr. C.R. Gibbs is the author/co-author of six books and a frequent national and international lecturer on an array of historical topics. He has appeared several times on the History Channel, French and Belgian television, and he wrote, researched, and narrated “Sketches In Color,” a 13-part companion series to the acclaimed PBS  series, “The Civil War” for WHUT-TV, the Howard University television station.

The Smithsonian Institution’s Anacostia Museum features Mr. Gibbs among its scholars at the museum’s Online Academy website. He is also a D.C. Humanities Council scholar.

In 1989, he founded the African History & Culture Lecture Series whose scholars continue to provide free presentations at libraries, churches, and other locations in the Washington-Baltimore area.

In 1997, he led 26 people across the African continent. He won the 2008 Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation in Public Education, given annually by the Mayor of the District of Columbia.

In 2009, the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust honored Mr. Gibbs for his more than three decades of articles, exhibits, and presentations on the military heritage of African and African Americans.

In 2011, he provided historical commentary for WUSA-TV, Channel 9’s coverage of the dedication of the King Memorial.

In February 2013, he also appeared in the PBS documentary, “Meet Me At Equality” on the 1963 March on Washington. That same year, Mr. Gibbs also spoke at the annual observance of International Emancipation Day in Toronto, Canada.

In 2014, Mr. Gibbs was a featured speaker at the National Civil War Project, a joint event sponsored by Arena Stage & George Washington University. Also that year, Mr. Gibbs was chosen one the 50 most influential people in the city by the Washington Informer newspaper.

His books are: “Black, Copper, & Bright: The District of Columbia’s Black Civil War Regiment,” ” Black Inventors: From Africa To America,” “Black Explorers: 23OO BC To The Present,” “Friends of Frederick Douglass”(a children’s book), “The Afro-American Inventor,” & “Black Georgetown Remembered” (co-author).

TheFuture of Farming: Women in the Forefront

MARCH 19 | 11 AM – 1 PM ET

Program Description

Join us for our Women’s History Month 2022 Celebration of women in farming. Meet two urban farmers: Georgia’s youngest certified farmer, 6-year-old Kendall Rae Johnson with her mother Ursula Johnson; and Rochester, New York’s Pamela Reese Smith, urban farmer and member of Black Farmers United NYS. 

Discussion topics include the legacy and future of Black farmers, both historically and personally.

Kendall Rae Johnson

“She’s a registered farmer — and she’s only 6 years old. Kendall Rae Johnson is breaking barriers in an industry that has long been White- and male-dominated.”


aGROWKulture Urban Farm by Kendall Rae Johnson, Georgia’s youngest certified farmer, is a 6-year-old, born and raised in Atlanta. Kendall Rae Johnson, Georgia’s youngest certified farmer, is a 6-year-old, born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Kendall Rae, as she is known by most, has been playing in the dirt since she was 3 years old.

She was inspired by the teachings of her great grandmother Laura “Kate” Williams. Although Kendall Rae doesn’t quite remember her great-grand, she remembers hearing her saying, “Don’t throw my collard green stems away, put them back in the dirt.”  That’s when it all started…on a small, but mighty, little patio pouch with Grandma. This tranquil and comforting place was where they planted seeds of cucumbers, peppers tomatoes and broken collard green stems.

Kendall Rae was fascinated by what was once tiny seeds or stems now had grown into a beautiful garden with colorful vegetables ready to be eaten by the family. Kendall Rae Johnson indeed has a dedicated, loving, forever growing, one of a kind team to support her. Her mom Ursula Johnson, mother, wife, and former concert dancer, guides the family business and research. She is the glue that holds the family together.

Pamela Reese Smith

“Farming is a calling. Black farmers have answered this call for centuries. Our ancestors were enslaved to work this land, and through farming we have found pathways from oppression to self-reliance, and from slavery to sovereignty.”

Black Farmers United of NYS

Pamela Reese Smith is a native of Harlem and now lives in Rochester, New York. Pamela is an urban farmer and raises specialty mints and herbs for tea and organic vegetables, and flowers on her small urban farm in the City of Rochester.

Pamela graduated from the University of Rochester in 2007 with the highest distinction in her class. She was awarded the Community Champion Award in 2012 from the Rochester Business Journal, for her work in the community. Pamela assisted the residents in a challenged neighborhood by organizing, finding resources, that led to establishing beautiful community gardens on unsightly vacant lots in the City of Rochester.

Pamela’s favorite work was being part of a team that built the Children’s Garden. Pamela is also a member of the Interim Steering Committee for Black Farmers United NYS, a group of more than 60 Black farmers, educators, and food justice advocates from across the state. In addition to all of that, Pamela also serve as the President of the Rochester NY Branch of ASALH.


Anita Russell, MEd
VP of Media Relations, Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch

Brothers Speak: Reflections on Black Women

MARCH 12 | 11 AM – 1 PM ET

Program Description

The topics of the discussion are the importance of family support and mentorship in public office; the effects of religion on public service and community discussion; the impact of social policies on family structure and education; and mental health-counseling resources.

Hear from Black men and women who share their insight on the best practices of leadership, advocacy, and community development to improve the lives of our children. 


Dr. Kathy Humphrey
President Carlow College


Russell and Kathy Bynum
Bynums Marketing and Communications Inc.

Rev. Dr. B. De Neice Welch
Sr. Pastor Bidwell Street United Presbyterian Church

Rev. Dr. John C. Welch
Sr. Pastor Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church

Rev. Edward and Lavonia Bailey
Bethel AME Church
Lancaster PA

Linda Sturdivant, MEd, LPC, CEAP
Owner Sturdivant & Associates
Pittsburgh PA

Dr. Stephanie Myers
National Co-chair and Founder pdf Black Women for Positive Change, Author, Co-owner R.J. Myers Publishing & Consulting Co.
Washington DC

First Annual Dr. Charles R. Drew Knowledge Bowl

Black History Event Hosted by the Dr. Edna B. Mckenzie Branch of ASALH
Registration Required


. . . So much of our energy is spent in overcoming the constricting environment in which we live that little energy is left for creating new ideas or things. Whenever, however, one breaks out of this rather high-walled prison of the “Negro problem” by virtue of some worthwhile contribution, not only is he himself allowed more freedom, but part of the wall crumbles. And so it should be the aim of every student in science to knock down at least one or two bricks of that wall by virtue of his own accomplishment. –

Charles R. Drew to Mrs. J. F. Bates, a Fort Worth, Texas schoolteacher, January 27, 1947

Dr. Charles R. Drew

Charles Richard Drew was an American surgeon and medical researcher. He researched in the field of blood transfusions, developing improved techniques for blood storage, and applied his expert knowledge to developing large-scale blood banks early in World War II. To earn money for medical school, he took a job as athletic director and instructor of biology and chemistry at Morgan College (now Morgan State University), in Baltimore. Drew attended medical school at McGill University Faculty of Medicine in Montréal, which had a reputation for better treatment of minorities. His research served as the basis of his doctorate thesis, “Banked Blood,” and he received his doctorate degree in 1940. Drew became the first African American to earn this degree from Columbia. He trained a generation of black physicians at Howard University. He was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity.

Join the Excitement as Students from 4 Universities Test Their Knowledge of
Black History

The Golden 13: The Navy’s First African American Naval Officers

Keynote Presenter: Dr. Roosevelt Wright, Retired Captain USN

“The Golden 13: The Navy’s First African American Naval Officers “
Dr. Roosevelt Wright, Retired Captain USN is a native of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and has been blessed with a career that has explored three areas of professional activity—the world of Academia, Professional Broadcasting, and the U.S. Military.  The “Golden Thirteen” were 13 enlisted Sailors who became the first African-American commissioned and warrant officers in the U.S. Navy during World War II.