Black preserves, promotes history for all ‘From Slavery to Freedom’


Samuel Black has more than 22 years experience in museum and historical society institutions. His life’s work is to help others understand the history and culture of African-Americans. He has served as manuscript curator for some of the most important historical resources in African-American history.
Since 2002, Black has been in Pittsburgh at the Senator John Heinz Regional History Center. He is project director for “From Slavery to Freedom,” a $2 million multimedia project that includes an exhibition, publications, a film series, craft programs, visual journaling workshop, research, collections, and lectures. “From Slavery to Freedom” is dedicated to historian John Hope Franklin and presents groundbreaking research, thematic museum installations, rare artifacts, and historical profiles that offer new ways of integrating historical documents, art, and research into a museum exhibition.
Black was nominated as a Champion of Dignity & Respect by Inez Miles, a vice president at Citizens Bank. “Sam works collaboratively with individual and institutions across the country to enhance the quality of information and appreciation of the impact that the African-American experience has had on the fabric of American history…we cannot effectively move forward if we don’t know where we have been,” said Miles.
An award winning curator, writer, editor, lecturer, and researcher Black has numerous publications in peer review journals, encyclopedias, books, magazines, newspapers, and has published three books, “Soul Soldiers: African Americans and the Vietnam Era” (editor); “Through the Lens of Allen E. Cole: A Photographic History of African Americans in Cleveland, Ohio” (co-author); and “The Civil War in Pennsylvania: The African American Experience” (editor).
Black says, “The African-American story is not exclusively African-American.  It includes the White abolitionists, like Charles Avery, who worked alongside the Black abolitionists to help bring slaves to freedom.”  He continues, “Regarding the civil rights movement, it involved Whites, Latinos, and Native Americans, not just Black folks.  These all were multi-racial movements.  No matter who comes to see one of my exhibits—no matter the race or background—I want them to feel connected to it, to see their own history in the stories of African-American history.  It really is all of our history.”
Black serves as the President of the Association of African-American Museums and has been a member since 1992. He has also served on the executive council of Association for the Study of African-American Life & History; and is currently vice president of the Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch of ASALH in Pittsburgh. He is a member of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society of Pittsburgh.
The Dignity & Respect Campaign is an awareness initiative designed to join individuals, community leaders, community organizations, educational institutions, businesses, and corporations under the common notion that everyone deserves dignity and respect. A Dignity & Respect Champion is someone nominated by a co-worker, family member, or friend who embraces diversity, embodies compassion, and demonstrates mutual respect. For more information and to take the Dignity & Respect Pledge, visit
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