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Black History Month: African Arts & Culture

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Earlier this month, a University of Pittsburgh alumnus donated eight important African artifacts in honor of an African American history professor.

In today's Black History Month salute, we take a look at African art artifacts and how it shapes our way of thinking.

"Having these artifacts is a physical, tangible example of Africa and African culture," Dr. Laurence Glasco, a Pitt professor, said. "It speaks to people in a way that say, words don't, books don't. People can see a physical representation of something that they, that would otherwise be an abstraction to them."

Dr. Glasco is speaking about the donation by Dr. Ralph Proctor, a Pitt alumnus and a nationally recognized collector of African art artifacts.

"Each of these pieces has a name. It has a use," says Dr. Proctor, a CCAC professor. "And there is something that can be learned by studying each piece, and we need to do that."

The artifacts will primarily be seen inside Pitt's African Heritage classroom, including the bronze casting of a head of a queen mother.

"We choose queen mother as the iconic symbol for this room… it represents Mother Africa, the source of us as a people," said Dr. Glasco. "To have it represented artistically through such a beautiful bronze casting… is really a tribute to Africa, to motherhood and to our idea that Africa is Mother Africa.

In the nationality room, history is not just one month of the year.

"The nice thing is that these classrooms are used year round," said Dr. Glasco. "Students come here, regular classes are held here and while they are here, they get exposed to Africa and Africa culture."

"African Americans do need to study African history and their own history because they are struggling under the misperception that we did nothing, that we accomplished nothing," added Dr. Proctor.

The African Heritage room is one of Pitt's 29 Nationality Rooms, all of which can be found inside the Cathedral of Learning.

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