CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Rosa Lena Pickel will present “African American Life: A Personal Perspective” in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston, on Thursday, Aug. 18. The program, which is the fourth of the 2016 The Block Speakers Series, begins at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Pickel was born in Charleston, the fourth child and third daughter to Samuel David Pickel Sr. and Lydia Byrd Plunkett. She attended Boyd Elementary, Boyd Junior High and Garnet High School and graduated as class valedictorian in 1948. In 1952, Pickel graduated magna cum laude from West Virginia State College (WVSC), receiving a bachelor of science degree in education with majors in business administration and French.

As the first WVSC graduate to receive a Fulbright Award to study and travel abroad, Pickel took classes at the Sorbonne in Paris, and at the Université de Franche-Comté in Besançon, France, 1952-53, and received a Certificate of French Studies. In 1965, Pickel received a master’s degree in French literature from Atlanta University.

Pickel began teaching in 1955 at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Ga., and concluded at WVSC in 1996. She taught French, Spanish, English and commerce in high schools and colleges from Maryland to South Carolina. Pickel served as commencement marshal at WVSC for many years and was grand marshal at her own retirement.

Pickel has been very active in the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. She has traveled abroad extensively, including Africa, the Holy Land, Canada, Mexico, Russia and Puerto Rico, and enjoys preventive care exercises, short trips, photography and her sorority Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Pickel participates in the Henry Highland Garnett Foundation, Inc., and the WVSC Foundation, Inc., and is a member of the President’s Circle at WVSC, as well as an annual scholarship donor.

“The Block” was once considered the heart of Charleston’s black community. It comprised a 25-acre area bounded by Washington Street East, Capitol Street, Smith Street and Sentz Court.

For additional information about the Archives and History lecture series, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.

Patrons may park behind the Culture Center after 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 18 and enter the building at the back loading dock area. The new bus turnaround is open, and handicapped spots are available there. Visitors parking there should enter at the front of the building.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.