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CCAC adjunct to speak about new book that details tragic episode of racial injustice in the region.

Cody McDevitt, an adjunct instructor in journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County, has written a book about a scandalous episode in African American history that occurred in Southwestern Pennsylvania less than 100 years ago—a story of which most people have never heard, even those living in the town where it happened. McDevitt will speak about his new book, “Banished from Johnstown: Racist Backlash in Pennsylvania” at CCAC Allegheny Campus on Wednesday, March 18. The event will take place in the Library Building, Room 119, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., with doors opening at 5:30. Light refreshments will be offered, and copies of the book will be available for purchase.

“This is the story of one of the worst racial injustices in American history, when 2,000 to 3,000 African Americans and Mexicans were forced out of a community at gunpoint and threatened with imprisonment,” said McDevitt, an investigative reporter for the Somerset Daily American.

After learning about the story through the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, McDevitt spent five years researching the events of 1923 and tracking down ancestors of the people affected by the scandal. In response to the fatal shooting of four police officers, the mayor of Johnstown ordered every African American and Mexican immigrant who had lived in the city for less than seven years to leave or face crippling fines or jail time.

McDevitt, who lives in Murrysville, has won a Golden Quill and awards from the Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association and the Pennsylvania Associated Press Media Editors Organization. He co-authored “Pittsburgh Drinks: A History of Cocktails, Nightlife & Bartending Tradition,” a cultural history of the city. He also worked on an oral history of World War II in Somerset County by interviewing more than 30 living veterans of the war, covering topics such as the Holocaust, the Battle of the Bulge and the combat seen in the South Pacific.

“Banished from Johnstown: Racist Backlash in Pennsylvania” can be purchased at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.
Cody McDevitt
Cody McDevitt