F906 Fall 2019 The Pittsburgh Renaissance: An Interdisciplinary Approach
Thursdays, 11:50–1:15, Sept. 26–Nov. 14
Sherwood Center, 3740 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA
Instructors: Rose Cherubin, Rutledge Dennis, Bill Taylor, Charles Sykes, Marianne Metz, Claire Smith, and Barbara Nelson
Coordinators: Camille Hodges, Barbara Nelson, Rala Stone
After the Civil War, Southern blacks migrated to the steel-making city of Pittsburgh and significantly contributed to its economic prosperity and success. From the 1920s through the 1950s, “Black Pittsburgh” also experienced an explosion of energy and creativity in the arts, music, and sports. Mark Whitaker’s book Smoketown provided important insights on this topic. Mason professors Rose Cherubin and Rutledge Dennis will examine the historical and social roots of this renaissance, including the philosophies of Alain Locke and W. E. B. Du Bois, as well as the impact of Pittsburgh’s African-Americans’ achievements. Bill Taylor will describe the Negro Baseball League and focus on its two local teams, the Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Homestead Grays. Charles Sykes will talk about his father, Franklin “Doc” Sykes, a star in that league, and other players he knew. Marianne Metz will highlight some of the amazing Pittsburgh-educated musicians. Claire Smith and Barbara Nelson will discuss three plays by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson: Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, and Fences.
Rutledge M. Dennis is a professor of sociology and anthropology at Mason. He received his BA in social science and sociology from South Carolina State University and his MA and PhD in sociology from Washington State University. Prior to joining Mason, he was the first coordinator of the African American studies program at Virginia Commonwealth University. Rose Cherubin is an associate professor of philosophy and director of graduate programs for philosophy at Mason. Charles Sykes is a retired overseas humanitarian aid worker, US Department of State senior executive, OLLI instructor for the Great Decisions Program, avid reader and follower of March Madness and Mad magazine. Bill Taylor is a retired senior executive from the Social Security Administration and an OLLI member. He has a life-long interest in baseball and its history. Marianne Metz treasures the music and performers of the mid-20th century. In previous OLLI classes she has shared her enthusiasm for Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Alice Faye, and classic American songwriters. She produces and hosts a weekly radio show The Melody Lingers On that features all of these and more. Claire Smith, an OLLI member, formerly served as co-chair of the Language, Literature, and Theater Program Planning Group. Barbara Nelson, an OLLI member, taught for over 30 years at the secondary level, the last 20 at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. She has taught literature classes at OLLI and art history classes that are based on National Portrait Gallery exhibits.