Arts + Culture

Martin Delany Symposium

Aug 27, 2022 - Aug 26, 2022 | 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Senator John Heinz History Center
1212 Smallman St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222


The African American Program at the Heinz History Center will host the Inaugural Martin R. Delany Symposium on Aug. 26-27, 2022, at the History Center.

The two-day academic conference will take an unprecedented look at the life, career, and legacy of Martin Delany, one the nation’s most influential African American leaders in the 19th century.

Born on May 6, 1812, in Charles Town, Virginia to a free mother, Pati, and enslaved father, Samuel, Delany lived under the yoke of racial oppression. He spent his formative years in Pittsburgh, where his education in enterprise, medicine, and journalism would set him apart from other abolitionists.

A free Black man in Pittsburgh, Delany became an outspoken voice against slavery. In 1843, he published “The Mystery,” the first African American newspaper published west of the Alleghenies, which championed equality for Blacks and supported the abolition of slavery in other parts of the nation. In 1865, President Lincoln would commission him a Major of the 104th United States Colored Infantry (USCI), making him the highest ranking African American field officer in the US Army.

The History Center’s Martin R. Delany Symposium will feature speakers and scholars from across the nation who have studied Delany and his indelible impact, including keynote speakers Richard J. Blackett, the Andrew Jackson Professor of History at Vanderbilt University; and Tunde Adeleke, director African American Studies at Iowa State University. Sessions will examine how ideas Delany presented during the 19th century correlate with the modern Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter movement, and other watershed moments that focus on freedom.

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