C3: Cloth, Culture and Community exploring 1,000 of Black Pittsburgh begins in West Africa and ends in Diondega. Hausa Land is in modern day Northern Nigeria we begin in the 1400 or 1500s, the dates are in dispute, inspired by Queen Amina. Queen Amina was an intrepid warrior who loved armor, weapons, riding horses among other warrior woman activities. The Hausa were amazing metal smiths and iron workers, their armor is in display in museums around the world. This is where are story begins.
Some of these amazing smiths were taken from their home placed on ships, crossing the Atlantic Ocean and what became known as the Middle Passage to New Orleans. There some were brought up the Mississippi to the Ohio River to what will later be known as Pittsburgh.
C3 will take us through several moments of time in the history of Pittsburgh including the Black soldiers who fought in the French and Indian War, through to meet an enslaved African woman who served the many enslavers of the Pittsburgh region, whose names you will probably be familiar with, if not the fact that they enslaved fellow humans.
We will talk about the Black people who owned businesses and helped build the Underground Railroad and Allegheny County. We will talk about the constant drive for equity and justice in Pittsburgh and in America from labor movements to war veterans and through poetry, art and music.
Most of the things I learned during the research for this project, are things I never learned in school. The travesty of the whitewashed view of the history of Pittsburgh is evident everywhere and is a disservice to us all.
My hope is that this exhibition will help educate and inspire all of us to learn more about the contributions, creativity of Black Pittsburgh.
Pictured is the center of the C3 flag.
It represents the Flying African and the eagle aka Ebo. In the context of the show the Flying African is a link between Africa and America. The Flying African also represents those who went through the Middle Passage as well as those who did not live to see the crossing. It also represents those who rebelled either on the ships through revolts, those who jumped from the ships to avoid enslavement, those who fought on those ships, and the ancestors who like those at Ibo Landing in Georgia literally turned around and walked back into the water. Some say they flew back to Africa while others say they drowned.
The eagle is an important symbol in Nigeria; it is on its coat of arms as well as the name of the national soccer team. It is also of course the America national bird. Again linking the African Diaspora.