Alle-Kiski Black History Festival Centers on Roots, Culture

By Capone, Melissa | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 25, 2007 | Go to article overview

Alle-Kiski Black History Festival Centers on Roots, Culture


Capone, Melissa, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Remembrance of roots and respect of culture were the dominating themes at Saturday's Alle-Kiski Black History Festival at the Clarion Hotel in New Kensington.

People of all races and ages turned out to celebrate and foster an educational and thoughtful atmosphere inside the hotel's Ohio Room.

Laurie Johnson-Wade, director of the Alle-Kiski Cultural Enrichment Center, said functions like the festival are important to create an "open dialogue" within the black community.

"Black people need to be more unified," Johnson-Wade said. "By keeping an open dialogue, you can truly address what's affecting every culture."

Marva Josie and her manager, Jerry Magnelli, were on hand to speak with festivalgoers and promote the importance of music in schools.

Josie worked as a vocalist for Earl "Fatha" Hines, known as the father of modern jazz piano, for 15 years. She also worked as a background singer for many Motown legends over the years, and has performed at Heinz Hall and the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh.

"I've performed around the world a couple times -- in Europe, Asia and South America," Josie said.

Josie said the festival was meant to "open people's eyes."

"Other cultures should come and see and buy, and try to understand a piece of black culture," Josie said. "And, as blacks, we need to be immersed in our own culture."

Magnelli said black history celebrations are especially important for children.

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