Created by Executive Order in January 1980, the Pennsylvania Heritage Affairs Commission became a statutory agency in 1992. The commission’s authorizing legislation addressed a wide range of public policy issues relating to cultural diversity in Pennsylvania. The commission was composed of not less than thirty-seven commissioners, nine at-large members appointed by the governor, and four members of the General Assembly appointed by majority and minority caucuses in the senate and house. These commissioners represented forty-six ethnic communities. The following persons represented the African American community: Dr. Rowena Steward, Dr. Stanley E. Denton, Anita Pernell-Arnold, and Dr. Niara Sudarkasa (the president of Lincoln University). An executive committee, which determined commission policy, was composed of the at-large and legislative members. The lieutenant governor served as chairman. Commissioners served two-year, non-salaried terms. The executive director of the commission, appointed by the governor, developed and implemented policies and programs, and maintained liaison activities with federal, state, and local agencies on matters concerning the impact of cultural diversity on public programs and policies. The Pennsylvania Heritage Affairs Commission was abolished on June 30, 1996.


Records of the Pennsylvania Heritage Affairs Commission. {unprocessed} The Pennsylvania Heritage Affairs Commission developed public programs to document, present, and conserve ethnic and folk cultural traditions. Staff members provided technical assistance to individuals, organizations and communities which sought to preserve their cultural traditions. Following are examples of programs related to African American culture:

The Green Circle Program, Inc. This program was founded by Gladys Rawlins in 1959 "to change the pattern of prejudice and discrimination and to provide a positive approach to overcoming racial, ethnic, and religious barriers." Included among documents related to this program are letters, surveys, and charts regarding population statistics of African Americans in Pennsylvania in 1990.

Governor’s Conference on Ethnicity: A Conference to Explore the Impact of Pennsylvania’s Cultural Diversity on Public Policy, June 8-9, 1990. The proceedings of this conference were edited by Shalom Staub and published by the Pennsylvania Heritage Affairs Commission. This conference’s sessions addressed many subject areas with specific reference to African Americans. The session on "Inter-Ethnic Relation" included a presentation by George Love from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Harrisburg Chapter. The session on "Multi-Cultural Education" addressed such topics as multi-racial, multi-cultural, and multi-ethnic education. The keynote address was delivered by Lincoln University President Dr. Niara Sudarkasa.

Also included in these records are the following publications and press clippings:

Cultural Diversity in Curriculum, 1991-1992, a booklet issued by The Pennsylvania State University. In 1991, Pennsylvania State University implemented a "diversity" requirement to increase awareness of the richness and variety of the racial and ethnic backgrounds which students, faculty, and staff brought to their campuses. As part of this initiative, the university sponsored a seminar/workshop session addressing "diversity" and this booklet was part of the packets of materials that were distributed to students.

Older Minorities in Pennsylvania, published by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging.

Pennsylvania: America Starts Here; African American Cultural Guide, published and distributed by the Pennsylvania Department of Commerce, Office of Travel Marketing.

Press Clippings: "A Celebration by the United Black Business Association (UBBA)," "Dr. Brenda Mitchell-Deputy Secretary for Policy, Planning, and Administration," "Penn Houses Black Culture Data," "Underground Railroad Gets Another Look" (with reference to Charles Blockson), "King’s Dream Retold as Speakers Honor Slain Rights Leader," "Trustees OK Nation’s First Ph.D. in African American Studies (Dr. Molefi K. Asante)," "First Ph.D. Program in Black History Begins at Temple," and "Self-made Historian Keeps 46 Years of Afro-American History in Basement."

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