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  • February 2019
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Black History Month Spotlights Return to CLP Carrick!

Every Tuesday in February last year, CLP Carrick’s weekly teen program, Teen Thing, focused on a different African American pioneer with a creative activity related to the accomplishments of said pioneer.  We made stop-motion zombie flicks in honor of Duane Jones, flipbook comics for Frank Braxton, 3D glasses for Valerie Thomas, and watched a documentary about the arts scene in Brooklyn in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

It was all pretty awesome.

So… when the topic of continuing the weekly Black History Month events came up this January, Teen Think, Carrick’s Teen Advisory Group, voted unanimously to continue the spotlights with this year’s theme of music.  Throughout February, Teen Thing will be spotlighting innovative and influential African American musicians who have significantly contributed to the sounds of rock, jazz, punk, and hip hop – and it all starts this week!

Tuesday, February 4th
Teen Thing / Black History Month Spotlight: Blues and Early Rock and Roll

The mysterious Robert Johnson

Into artists like Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Jack White, and The Black Keys??? Come find out about the African American blues and rock musicians that influenced them – artists like Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, Muddy Waters, and Chuck Berry.

Oh, and make your own harmonica while you’re at it!

Other events include:

Tuesday, February 11th
Teen Thing / Black History Month Spotlight: All That Jazz

Pittsburgh’s Mary Lou Williams

Tuesday, February 18th
Teen Thing / Black History Month Spotlight: Punk 101 – Bad Brains

Washington D.C.’s legendary Bad Brains

Tuesday, February 25th
Teen Thing / Black History Month Spotlight: Hip Hop and Change

Saul Williams

Find out where the music you like comes from at our Black History Month Spotlights!  Teen Thing happens every Tuesday afternoon from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM and is open to anyone in grades 6-12 or age 12-18.

Jon : Carrick

Black History Month: Celebrate Science

The month of February has been designated as Black History Month since 1970.  This year, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is highlighting the history of African-American Innovators and Inventors. 


Halle Tanner Johnson

According to Wade Hudson, author of Scientists, Healers and Inventors, Halle Tanner Johnson was the first woman to be licensed to practise medicine in the state of Alabama.  Not the first African-American woman, but the first woman.  She was also the first resident physician at the Tuskegee Institute, and she was born in Pittsburgh.

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver was born on a plantation in Diamond Grove, Missouri.  According to Wade Hudson, George Washington Carver was the first black student accepted at Simpson College in Iowa.  He transferred to Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts a few years later and became the first black student to attend that school as well.  He became the head of the agriculture department at the Tuskegee Institute, a post that he held for 47 years.

He discovered hundreds of products that could be made from the peanut, the sweet potato, and the pecan, and became an authority on plant diseases.

Madam C. J. Walker

Sarah Breedlove was born in 1867 in Delta, Louisiana.  Her parents were former slaves.  In 1905, she married Charles Joseph Walker and began calling herself Madam C. J. Walker.  Madam C. J. Walker created, manufactured and sold hair care products designed for African-American women.  She is known as the first black female millionaire.  Some sources name her as the first female millionaire in the United States.  Madam C. J. Walker’s hair care products are still sold today.

Lewis Latimer

Lewis Latimer was born in Chelsea, Masschusetts in 1848.  He was the son of fugitive slaves.  He worked with Alexander Graham Bell, Hiram Maxim and Thomas Edison.  Levenia George notes in the Smithsonian article, Lewis Latimer:  Renaissance Man, that Latimer Lewis became one of the 28 charter members of the Edison Pioneers.  He was the only African-American to receive this honor. 

Lonnie Johnson

Lonnie Johnson was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1949.  He was inspired by the work of George Washington Carver.  He attended Tuskegee University earning a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering.  This former NASA scientist is best known for inventing the Super Soaker

Read More about Scientists and Inventors




CLP–Mt. Washington

Teen Time: Black History Month Edition

PROOF _1  BH_slider 2013

So, you may have heard that February is Black History Month and the teen specialists have created several events just for teens to help you celebrate the abolitionists, activist & innovators who changed history.

The Northside is the place to be on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 if you want to speak your mind or acquire some quilting skills.

Open Mic Night 4:00PM – 7:00 PM

Electret Condenser Microphone
Source: Google Images

Celebrate the innovation of Dr. James West, an African-American inventor who improved the microphone, by participating in our Open Mic Night to kickoff Black History Month. James West’s research in the early 1960s led to the development of foil-electret transducers for sound recording and voice communication that are used in 90% of all microphones (and cell phones!) built today.  Bring a poem you wrote, read from a favorite book or bust a rhyme! Cookies & hot chocolate will be served.

Location: Woods Run

Quilting & The Underground Railroad 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Look into the historical debate surrounding quilting and its significance in relation to the Underground Railroad. Also, create your own quilt square and combine it with other teens!

Location: Allegheny

If you are free on Thursday, February 7, 2013 head up to Mt. Washington!

African-American Hero Buttons 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Make your own button to celebrate an African-American Hero: Artists, Civil Rights Leaders, Inventors, Military Leaders, Scientists, oh my!
All materials will be provided. For grades 6-12. Refreshments will be provided!

Location: Mt. Washington

Have you always wanted to rock your natural curls but aren’t quite sure where to begin? Maybe you’ve proudly sported your Afro for years, but are still struggling to find the right products. Head over to Woods Run on Saturday, February 9, 2013 for a presentation on natural hair care.

Natural Hair Care Class 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
In this class we will explore healthy hair practices for those interested in natural hair, discuss simple yet effective hair regimens and affordable products and the best way to protect your hair during the cold months. Please bring questions and concerns.

The Teen staff at Main has a whole day planned full of literary awesomeness and crafting!  On Saturday, February 16, 2013 come for book club, then stay for a quilting workshop.

Booked for Lunch: Panther Baby and The Rock and the River: A Book Club for Teens 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Bring some snacks or a lunch and join us for this month’s book discussion.  In celebration of Black History Month we’re choosing two related titles.  You can read one of the books or both, it’s up to you!

index The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon takes place in 1968 Chicago.  Fourteen-year-old Sam Childs is caught in the middle of a family fight.  Sam’s father works with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and believes in a nonviolent approach to seeking civil rights for African-Americans.  Sam’s older brother thinks Dr. King’s movement is taking too long to bring about change and chooses joins the Black Panther Party.

In Panther Baby Jamal Joseph shares his true-life experiences as one of the youngest members of the Black Panther Party.  Joseph joined the Panthers as a high schooler and eventually landed in prison because of his connection to the organization.  Years later, during another stint in prison Joseph earned two degrees and began writing plays.  Joseph eventually became the chair of Columbia University’s film division, a university he once encouraged students to burn to the ground.

Location: Teens – Main

Teen Quilting Workshop 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Blocks, Strips, Strings and Half Squares. Mary Lee Bendolph (2005). Cotton. 84″ x 81″ Courtesy of Matt Arnett. Photo by Pitkin Studio.

From the Underground Railroad to the Gee’s Bend Quilts, quilting is an art form that has deep roots in Black history and culture. Teens are invited to this hands-on quilting workshop to celebrate Black History Month. All materials provided. Participation is limited and registration is required.

Location: Teens – Main

Ready to test your knowledge of Black History while chowing down on pizza? Head to the Hill District on Saturday, February 23, 2013 for trivia and food!

Black History Teen Trivia Challenge 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

Teens, test your Black History knowledge-Jeopardy style! Pizza for participants courtesy of Vocelli!

Location: Hill District

There are many more events planned for this month. Please check out the entire list!

The spoken word revolution : slam, hip-hop, & the poetry of a new generation / edited by Mark Eleveld Teens & tweens quilting fun with family & friends by Anita Shackelford & Jennifer PerduePassages to freedom : the Underground Railroad in history and memory / edited by David W. BlightNorth star to freedom : the story of the Underground Railroad by Gena K. GorrellThe Underground Railroad (DVD)Good Hair (DVD)The black woman's guide to beautiful hair: a positive approach to managing any hair and style by Lisa AkbariMary Lee Bendolph, Gee's Bend quilts, and beyond / essays by Joanne Cubbs, Matt Arnett, and Dana Friis-Hansen Gee's Bend : the women and their quilts by John BeardsleyGrowing up Black : teens write about African-American identity  by Youth Communication

lauren @ WoodsRun

Celebrating Black History Month: African Americans and Film


February is Black History Month!  To mark the occasion, every Tuesday in February CLP Carrick’s Teen Thing (our weekly teen activity/chill out time) is going to focus on some remarkable contributions made in the areas of film and technology by African Americans.   Each week we’re going to explore a new pioneer, talk about why they’re important, and create with an art project related to that person!

February 5th @ 4:30 PM


Duane Jones as Ben in ‘Night of the Living Dead’

On the first Tuesday of the month we’re going to spotlight Duane Jones.  If you’ve ever seen the 1968 local horror classic Night of the Living Dead, then you probably recognize Mr. Jones as Ben – the film’s hero.  What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that his portrayal of Ben was an important milestone in film history, as it marked the first time that an African-American was cast as the lead star in a horror movie.

In homage to Mr. Jones and his classic role, we’re going to be making mini stop-motion zombie movies on our iPads!  Once again, Ben will try and save the day from hordes of undead flesh eaters!  Will he live to tell the tale this time???


February 12th @ 4:30 PM


Frank Braxton is our subject in the second week of February!  Mr. Braxton is largely regarded as the first African-American animator to be offered a position with a major Hollywood studio, Warner Bros. Cartoons.  He drew for a number of classic animated movies and TV shows.  Some of his most enduring works include:  You’re in Love, Charlie Brown; A Boy Named Charlie Brown; and the Mister Magoo, Bullwinkle, and George of the Jungle TV shows of the 1960s.

Since love will be in the air this week, we’re going to watch some of Mr. Braxton’s work and flex our imaginations with some basic animation/flip book techniques!


February 19th @ 4:30 PM

Valerie Thomas' Illusion Transmitter

Valerie Thomas’ Illusion Transmitter

On February 19th, we’re going to focus on Valerie Thomas and 3D technology.  Ms. Thomas, a scientist and inventor who worked for NASA, is widely known for her Illusion Transmitter, a device she developed and patented in 1980.  The basic idea behind the Illusion Transmitter was to take the flat image from, say, a TV screen and have it projected into your room in 3D – almost like a hologram in a Sci-Fi movie!  Needless to say, the invention provided some serious upgrades for the existing 3D technology of the day, and is still currently used by NASA.

Look for some red and cyan action going down this week!


February  26th @ 4:30 PM


To close out our month-long celebration, we’re going to have a special screening of an awesome documentary focusing on the vibrant cultural scene of Brooklyn in the 1980s and early 1990s, which launched a number of notable directors, musicians, artists, poets, and comedians.  Popcorn, anyone?


All of these events are free and open to anyone in grades 6-12.  Teen Thing is held every Tuesday from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM at CLP Carrick (1811 Brownsville Road, Pittsburgh PA 15210).  Hope to see you there!

stuffs and stuffs:


Jon : Carrick

POW: Ardency, A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels by Kevin Young

Kevin Young was a player for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1992-2003, but there’s another Kevin Young you might want to get to know. He’s a poet from Nebraska and his poetry has been called “compulsively readable” by the New York Times Book Review. He writes about subjects and figures from American history, ranging from the Civil War to Jean-Michel Basquiat.

I’d have to agree.  Although he’s most famous for his National Book Award-nominated collection of poems about jazz legend Jelly Roll Morton (called Jelly Roll), I’ve only read his most recent book, Ardency: A chronicle of the Amistad Rebels, published last year. I’d heard about it through the Adult Books 4 Teens blog from School Library Journal online, and felt like it was time to read some more poetry.



Ardency is an interpretation of a real event:

“In the summer of 1839, fifty-three Africans illegally sold in Havana mutinied on the schooner Amistad while being taken to Puerto Principe. The rebels, mostly men from the Mendi people of Sierra Leon, killed the captain and the cook but spared their masters to help steer toward the rising sun and Africa. For nearly two months, the would-be slaveowners rerouted by night until a navy brig captured the ship. …Authorities quickly threw the Africans in Connectiut jails while deciding either to return the men to their Spanish masters or award them as ‘salvage’ to the U.S. sailors.” (from the Preface)

Young takes on the voices of the Africans and imagines their thoughts, anger, and desire in four different sections. He starts with traditional poems, moves on to an imagined journal,  then swerves into a libretto encompassing the whole group of Africans on Amistad, then ends with seven different monologues from a deathbed confession to a progress report, to a captain’s log.  His language is lyrical and nimbly changes to fit the section and the speaker.

The poems in here cut to the heart of history and give you the immediacy of a primary source document with imagination and detail to take you even further into what it could have been like, as in the opening of “Broadway”:

At Broadway Tabernacle the abolitionists charge

half-dollar a head to view your Mendi zoo.

After the slideshow of Sierra Leone, they hold

spelling bees to show how far you’ve come.

I wish for a word I could become. If just one letter

would shift, worship turning warship . . . But little

Kale spells it right: —Bless-ed are the pure at heart.


The best part about the variety of Ardency is that you can pick a section and start there without reading the others, depending on your mood.


More information on Kevin Young can be found at poets.org and The Poetry Foundation.


Happy poetry reading!

-Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

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