Mavuno Festival reflects on African American history in Sewickley

Free opening reception set for Saturday

SEWICKLEY — An exhibition of local, historical photos highlights the Mavuno Festival of African American Art & Culture opening Saturday at the Sweetwater Center for The Arts.

“Reflection & Remembrance” traces the history of African Americans in Sewickley to the 1820s, with the first groups arriving as domestic workers for the wealthy, then migrants from Virginia and Kentucky coming to work in construction. The photos provide a glimpse into a community with a rich history that includes the 1857 founding of the historic St. Matthews A.M.E. Zion church, which became a safe house for those escaping slavery via the Underground Railroad.

Culled from the collections of the Sewickley Valley Historical Society, The Sewickley Community Center and local residents, these photos demonstrate how African American residents have lived, worked and celebrated in the Sewickley area in the generations since.

The free opening reception for “Reflection & Remembrance” lasts from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, with the exhibit remaining at Sweetwater through Oct. 22.

Named after the Swahili word for “harvest,” Mavuno includes other events, such as:

• A poetry writing workshop every Saturday from Oct. 6 through 20.

• A free lecture, “Realities and Repercussions: Systemic Racism in America,” at 6 p.m. Oct. 13 presented by Idris Kabir-Syed, associate professor of Pan-African Studies at Kent State University.

• A “Dance And Be Fit Soul Line Dancing” workshop from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20. The cost is $30.

Tickets also are on sale for the Mavuno Gospel Brunch on Sept. 29, offering a bountiful buffet of soul food, a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar and uplifting performances by Sewickley’s own St. Matthews A.M.E. Zion Church Choir and Pastor Deryck Tines & The Lemington Gospel Chorale of Pittsburgh. Tickets for the noon event cost $40 in advance and $45 that day.

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