One by one, those who’d experienced the turbulent days in Pittsburgh half a century ago entered the room and faced questions.
“How did Martin Luther King’s death affect the black communities in Pittsburgh?”
“If you could talk about one thing in the MLK movement, what would you say?”
“Why was Dr. Martin Luther King praised more than Malcolm?”
Several students at Westinghouse Academy 6-12 got a chance to spend time with five people who knew Pittsburgh in the era of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and witnessed the city’s evolution after the civil rights leader’s murder on April 4, 1968.
(The story of Pittsburgh’s reaction to the Rev. King’s death is detailed in “The week the Hill rose up.”)
The five — Louis “Hop” Kendrick, Curtiss Porter, Brenda Tate, Ralph Porter and Charlene Foggie-Barnett — shared stories with Westinghouse students earning college level credit in a special U.S. history course taught by Sean Means
The course is the result of a partnership between Westinghouse and Pitt’s School of Social Work, and “shows what the students are capable of if given an opportunity and creates a new narrative around the school,” says program director Esohe Osai. “The students can see themselves as scholars. It can change their view of themselves and the common perception of the school.”
The program, in its second year, has plans to expand at Westinghouse next year. “This partnership has great potential and I’m excited to see where it goes,” Osai says.
Post-Gazette videographer Jessie Wardarski recorded the remarkable conversations with students about the uprising in Pittsburgh 50 years ago. Students also shot photographs of each of the five adults. We’re presenting the interviews and pictures here in the Digs to highlight a unique coming together of generations with an interest in where we’ve been and where we’re going.