The World History Center is pleased to share the news that Black Built Pitt, a WHC working group for the 2021-2022 academic year, is now live! Black Built Pitt (BBP) is a digital archive that explores and highlights Black historical events at sites around the University of Pittsburgh’s Pittsburgh campus. As of February 2022, the Black Built Pitt team has created three digital exhibits: the 1969 Computer Center Takeover, Kuntu Repertory Theater, and the Afrolatinidad Studies Initiative.
The Computer Center Takeover revisits the 1969 sit-in at the computer center in the Cathedral of Learning as students organized in protest of the University’s lack of response to demands presented by the Black Action Society. Visitors to the digital archive can explore materials related to the event including the Black Action Society’s list of demands to the University Administration, newspaper clippings about the takeover, other documents produced by the Black Action Society, and links to material produced about the event in the years after the Computer Center Takeover.
The Kuntu Repertory Theater exhibit displays equally impressive archival source material. The Kuntu Repertory theater, founded in 1974 at the University of Pittsburgh, gave Black artists the space to write and perform plays that explored the Black experience. The archive features documents, photographs and images that bring the theater, and the creative artists associated with it, to life.
The third exhibit explores diaspora through the Afrolatinidad Studies Initiative, an initiative established by Dr. Michele Reid-Vazquez in 2018. The initiative offers a new conceptualization of Latin American and Latinx studies by “centering blackness, challenging colonial thought, and extending value to our ancestral and contemporary connections.” The archive hosts a collection of ways to engage with the initiative and information about past events.
The exhibits created by Black Built Pitt highlight historical events on campus, the important cultural contributions of Black artists in the city, and contemporary initiatives aimed at exploring the Black experience. Each exhibit collects, documents, and preserves the history and memory of its subject, putting into focus the many ways that Black students and faculty have contributed to and impacted the Pitt community.
Black Built Pitt is part of the University of Pittsburgh’s Black Lives in Focus initiative to celebrate Black voices and the Black experience in our community. See pi.tt/BLIF for more information on this cross-disciplinary initiative and its related events.
Images from: Library Takeover and Kuntu Repertory Theater