Pittsburgh Mayor Honored with Ioannis Kapodistrias Award

PITTSBURGH, PA – The Greek-American community of Western Pennsylvania honored the new Mayor of Pittsburgh Edward C. Gainey, the city’s first African-American mayor, with the Ioannis Kapodistrias Award on March 23.

Mayor Gainey posted on Facebook about the event which was part of the “celebrations for Greek Independence Month. We celebrated our incredible democracies, virtues, and values alongside the 201st anniversary of the Greek Revolution.”

“The Kapodistrias Award was presented in memory of and tribute to the African-American hero James Williams,” Gainey continued. “He escaped enslavement in Baltimore and came to fight alongside the Greeks in their War of Independence and inspired the Greeks in their struggle for liberty. Thank you to everyone for planning and participating in this incredible event.”

Left to right: Peter Nychis, Michelle Kotsagrelos, Dr. Nick Giannoukakis, Venetia Moreno, Borough of Oakmont, PA Mayor Sophia Facaros, Pittsburgh Mayor Edward C. Gainey (holding the Kapodistrias Award), Evie Moreno, Dr. George Bellios, James Gregorakis, John Katras, and Koula Kaskavaltzis. Photo: Facebook

Dr. Nick Giannoukakis, Chairperson of the American Hellenic Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and organizer of the community-wide tribute and honor to Mayor Gainey, noted that “the Ioannis Kapodistrias Award is given by the Greek-American community of Western Pennsylvania to honor prominent and pioneering figures in the region.”

The event also honored the Philhellenes who were inspired by the Revolution to strengthen their efforts in the Abolitionist movement in the United States. Dr. Giannoukakis presented the history of Ioannis Kapodistrias’ role in shaping anti-slave trade rules at the Congress of Vienna and that of Aix-la-Chapelle, the story of James Williams, the Greek Revolution’s inspiration to the American Abolitionist movement, the historic relations between Archbishop Iakovos and Martin Luther King, and today’s fraternity between the Greek-American and the African-American community in the U.S.

Dr. Nick Giannoukakis, Chairperson of the American Hellenic Foundation of Western PA and the organizer of the community-wide tribute and honor to Mayor Edward Gainey, during his presentation. (Photo: Facebook)

Also on March 23, Allegheny County Executive in Pennsylvania Rich Fitzgerald along with Mayor Gaines issued a proclamation for the Anniversary of Greek Independence, announcing the month of March as Greek Independence Month, and specifically March 25, 2022, as a day of remembrance of the heroic Greeks, the strong ties between the region and Greece, and thanking the Greek immigrants in the region and their descendants for their contribution to the positive development of the region.

The inscription on the Ioannis Kapodistrias Award. Photo: Facebook

Among those present were AHEPA Chapter 34 President and Council President St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral Peter Nychis, Michelle Kotsagrelos of the Pan-Icarian Brotherhood, Venetia Moreno of the Pan-Karpathian Educational and Progressive Association, Borough of Oakmont, PA Mayor Sophia Facaros of the Pan-Icarian Brotherhood, Evie Moreno of the Pan-Karpathian Educational and Progressive Association, AHEPA Chapter 34’s Dr. George Bellios, AHEPA Region 2 Supreme Governor James Gregorakis, AHEPA District 4 Secretary John Katras, and University of Pittsburgh Nationality Rooms Program Greek Nationality Room Committee Treasurer Koula Kaskavaltzis.

On Saturday, March 26, 7 PM, the American Hellenic Foundation of Western Pennsylvania presents an online event honoring the legendary African-American hero James Williams. Following the awards and the historical presentation, excerpts will be shared from the novel about his life, The Fantastic Story of James Williams: To Breathe to Believe by Kostas Rethymniotakis.

Pittsburgh Mayor Edward C. Gainey. Photo: Facebook

On Sunday, March 27, 7 PM, Professor Maureen Santelli will present “The Influence of the Greek Revolution of 1821 on the Birth and Progression of the Abolitionist Movement in America.”

The events will be featured online by the American Hellenic Foundation of Western Pennsylvania, a close and regular contributor to the European Art Center of Greece (EUARCE): https://pahellenicfoundation.org/March22.


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