Black History Month

Black History Month shadow of a black woman

Nominate a Black History Month Honoree!

Each year, in recognition of Black History Month, the Borough of Swissvale celebrates and recognizes outstanding Black Swissvalian residents and business owners who embody the essence of Black History Month by their positive contributions to Swissvale and society at large. The recipients of the Black History Month Honoree designation are recognized publicly at the February Borough Council Meeting and are presented with a plaque highlighting their achievements.

This year, the Swissvale Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee is asking local business owners and residents to submit nominations for individuals or businesses to be honored. Nominations should be submitted to the Borough of Swissvale Administration Office no later than January 27, 2023. Please include the nominee name, contact information and a short description of the contributions they are making/have made to the community, as well  as your name, address and contact information. Nominations can be submitted through THIS FORM, emailed to or mailed to Swissvale Borough, 7560 Roslyn Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15218. Nominees will be notified if they are selected to be recognized and will be invited to attend the February 22, 2023 Borough Council Agenda meeting (held via Zoom) to received the well-deserved recognition. 

Thank you for your participation and joining in the celebration of Black History Month in the Borough of Swissvale. 

Black History Month Past Honorees

In celebration of Black History Month (BHM), Swissvale Borough Council recognized the following community members for their 
accomplishments, contributions and service in Swissvale and beyond.

2022 Honorees

Veryl Lawson

(Top Left) A lifelong resident, mother and grandmother, Veryl has served as a leader for the Swissvale Economic Development Corp. (SEDCO), the Mon Valley Initiative (MVI) and the Swissvale Planning Commission for many years. 

Ciora Thomas

(Top Right) Ciora is a Pittsburgh native, a black trans woman and the founder and Director of SisTers PGH. She advocates for transgender rights throughout Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. SisTers PGH is responsible for organizing and hosting the first Pride Month celebration in Swissvale. 

Leland Scales 

(Bottom Left) While earning his Master of Science degree in Food Studies at Chatham University, Scales decided to put his research into action. He created the Swissvale Community Garden to both beautify the neighborhood and provide access to free, healthy fresh produce to his neighbors. He also founded Swissvale Community Action Committee and is actively involved with Reach Up Pittsburgh and 412 Food Rescue. 

Joylette Portlock

(Bottom Right) Dr. Portlock is the first Black woman to serve as Executive Director of Sustainable Pittsburgh, a nonprofit working to advance sustainability policies and practices in southwestern Pennsylvania. As a resident, her leadership helped to launch the Farmers Market in Swissvale. 

BHM Honorees

2021 Honorees

Union Baptist Church

For their 100 years of existence and longstanding service to the Swissvale Community.

Nelson Kirksey

For his years of service with the Swissvale Community Food Pantry.

State Representative Summer Lee

For being the first Black woman elected to serve Southwest Pensylvania in the State House of Representatives. 

John "Scrap" Wilson

For his years of service with the Swissvale Baseball and Softball Association.

New Convenant Christian Fellowship

For their 20+ years of existence in the Swissvale Community.