Carnegie museum exhibit explores race relations
Florence Saint-Jean saw Wall Street bankers on the subway next to homeless people while she grew up in New York. Race, background and income didn't matter underground.
Saint-Jean, 29, a doctoral student at Duquesne University, views Pittsburgh differently. Here, addresses mean something.
“There's a lot more diversity in New York City,” she said on Sunday while visiting the “Race: Are We So Different?” exhibit in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Oakland. “Here, everyone asks what neighborhood I'm from.”
The touring museum exhibit put on by the American Anthropological Association explores the history, science and experiences of race relations in the United States.
Saint-John stopped to read through a localized portion of the exhibit stemming from interviews and photos produced by George Barber and Charles “Teenie” Harris in 1957 for the Pittsburgh Courier. Reporter Lynne Hayes-Freeland and artist Nikkia Margaret Hall posed the same question to Pittsburghers in 2014: What do you think of race relations in Pittsburgh?
Some in the 1950s said Pittsburgh had more favorable race relations than comparable cities. Modern residents, though, said segregation is a pervasive reality.
“The stories haven't really changed much, when you look at the comparison,” said Saint-John, whose parents came from Haiti. “You would think 50 years later, we would improve, but right now, it's still an issue.”
To challenge the misconceptions of race in the United States, the exhibit pulls guests through a timeline of the past few hundred years. It examines the effects of the G.I. Bill after World War II, which the exhibit says disproportionately aided white veterans above minorities. It explores conflicts of Native American mascots in schools and universities, and dives into the separate-but-equal paradigm of the mid-20th century.
Krish Mohan, a gallery presenter at the museum, said many visitors spend about 20 minutes reading and viewing parts of the exhibit. Others spend longer, examining the space.
Interactive quizzes let visitors test their perceptions on the connection between country of origin and race. Experts on looped videos talk through the history of generational shifts in legislation and social trends. Large photographs of Americans from different eras, cultures and backgrounds frame the space under track lighting.
Tom Dilaura, 65, of Baltimore stopped by the museum to check out the exhibit while visiting his son in the city. He remembers the segregated buses and lunch counters growing up in Maryland, and recalled the recent 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Generational change, he said, has bred progress.
“Less and less, this will be an issue,” he said.
Funding backers for the project include the Ford Foundation and the National Science Foundation. Local support for the exhibit came from the EQT Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Hearst Foundation Inc., The Heinz Endowments and Dominion Foundation, according to the museum's website.
The museum will host the exhibit through Oct. 27 in the third-floor R.P. Simmons Family Gallery. Other stops this year include The North Museum in Lancaster; History Colorado in Denver; Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie, Ill., and The Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville.
Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sting highlights demand for Pappy Van Winkle bourbon
- New CEO eager to revitalize Pittsburgh International Airport
- Police say couple in Oakland murder-suicide had ‘troubled’ relationship
- Pa. Turnpike claims software fraud, wants $45M
- Goodell defends league, dodges difficult questions
- Pittsburgh mayor denies ethics investigation into his ‘Undercover Boss’ performance
- Week before sentencing, Ferrante seeks acquittal or new trial
- Charge against ex-Steeler dropped after community service
- 2nd lawsuit filed against Gov. Wolf seeking reinstatement of open records director
- Overnight snow delaying schools in Western Pa.
- Propel Braddock school bans backpacks, to add metal detectors