Pitt Reception Launches 'America’s Best Weekly: A Century of The Pittsburgh Courier' Exhibition

Issue Date: 
January 31, 2011
Four paperboys stand outside The Pittsburgh Courier offices on Centre Avenue; photo by Charles "Teenie" Harris.Four paperboys stand outside The Pittsburgh Courier offices on Centre Avenue; photo by Charles "Teenie" Harris.

University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg and Pitt Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Robert Hill, in association with the Senator John Heinz History Center, will hold a private reception and program from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10 at the History Center, 1212 Smallman Street, Strip District, to help launch a new exhibition at the museum that will explore the nationwide impact of The Pittsburgh Courier newspaper throughout the past 100 years. The reception is Pitt’s 2011 K. Leroy Irvis Black History Month Program.

America’s Best Weekly: A Century of The Pittsburgh Courier will open to the public Feb. 11 and run through Oct. 2, 2011.

Through a number of artifacts, rare photos, and audiovisual displays, the exhibition will profile the major contributors who helped propel The Pittsburgh Courier from a 1907 start-up publication to one of the most influential Black publications in the United States.

Robert L. Vann (1879-1940), who received his bachelor’s and law degrees from Pitt in 1906 and 1909, respectively, played a major role in The Pittsburgh Courier’s success. In 1910, he was the newspaper’s counsel and soon became its owner, publisher, and editor.

Highlights of America’s Best Weekly include:

• The oldest-known existing copy of The Pittsburgh Courier, from Nov. 5, 1910;

• A display on The Courier’s coverage of the civil rights movement and wartime issues that includes a World War I military uniform worn by Captain Donald Jefferson of the 351st Field Artillery positioned next to a white robe worn by a member of the Ku Klux Klan;

• Highlights from The Courier’s extensive reporting on Black athletes, including the boxing gloves used by Joe Louis in his famous 1938 fight against Max Schmeling, on loan from the Smithsonian Institution;

• A camera belonging to legendary Courier photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris;

• A detailed look at the birth of The Pittsburgh Courier, featuring previously unpublished research findings about founders Edward N. Harleston and Vann; and

• Artifacts from the The Courier’s political coverage of various U.S. presidents and election campaigns.

The Feb. 10 event begins with previews of the exhibition, followed by the reception and a program during which the following individuals will make remarks: Chancellor Nordenberg, New Pittsburgh Courier publisher Rod Doss, Heinz History Center Chair Robert Cindrich, and exhibition curator Sam Black. Additional tours of the exhibition follow the program.