Certain People…A survey of Black elite in 18th, 19th century Pittsburgh


(Pittsburgh)—The printed version of a Feb. 7 address by Robert Hill, retired vice chancellor of Public Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, for the Adult Forum of the Church of the Holy Cross.
Hello, everyone and thank you, Dr. Leon Haley, for that generous introduction, which proves once again that church is for sinners too.
The strange title of my talk is a send up of the 1977 Stephen Birmingham book, “Certain People: America’s Black Elite,” about this nation’s old and new moneyed African Americans. Of course, as a poor boy from Harlem, I regard anybody with more than I have as “certain people.”
In any case, today’s discussion is a clear reminder that “old” money is relative. The folks we discuss are among the earliest prosperous Black Pittsburghers, who were around here, in some cases, as the United States was being formed, and even earlier.


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