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October 23, 2020

Why Tell Your Story? A Reflection on October 27

I suppose I wondered if the day held any omens, and therefore I was stunned to read the following account from October 27, 1905: “A pogrom occurs in Semenovka, Russia. Looting and burning of Jewish property accompanies the slaughter of the Jews—11 are massacred, 11 are gravely wounded.” The same day, the same toll, separated by 113 years and by the wide ocean between the cruel Old World and the promise of North America. What did it mean?

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July 25, 2020

Celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act: Paul Dick

Faced with these challenges, disability rights advocates in Western Pennsylvania relentlessly worked with local government and policy leaders to build a more accessible public transportation system. Paul Dick is one such advocate.

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July 3, 2020

Exploring Images of John Brown

Perhaps more than any other figure connected with abolitionist cause in America, John Brown was a polarizing presence, depicted as demon or martyr depending upon the goals of the artist and the intended audience. An image featured in the new exhibition Smithsonian’s Portraits of Pittsburgh: Works from the National Portrait Gallery emphasizes Brown’s resurrected image after the Civil War, when the Union victory confirmed for many the merits of his purpose even if they disapproved of his methods. The print reminds us that portraits are not neutral images. They are artifacts of a certain time and place, shaped by the motives of creators and sitters and geared to the expectations of specific audiences.

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