Schenley High School Memorabilia by Alex Young

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Three years ago, Hannibal Hopson hopped up on the ledge of a construction dumpster and climbed through the broken bathroom window in the first floor of what was his Schenley High School. The facility looked different. There weren't lockers or functioning classrooms with desks. There were no school club flyers on the walls. No students or teachers in sight. Instead, the floors were dusty with wood residue from sawing and sanding. A bulldozer sat in the hallway. Hopson pushed past wires that hung down from the ceiling. Creeks and screech echoed through the hollow building. The basketball court that was home to former Pennsylvania State Champion Spartans had cracks in it. People began picking the wood off the court. Concrete scraps from the deconstruction project were thrown in the empty pool. The construction workers littered their lunch scraps in the showers. They were turning Schenley High School into an apartment complex, effectively displacing inner-city students who called the place their alma mater for 95 years.

Now, the Schenley Apartments mock alumni and the history that came from Schenley High School.

In an attempt to memorialize the legendary school, Hopson and InTheRough partner to offer memorabilia to celebrate what once was. We created a two-page magazine spread in the latest issue of Pittsburgh-based EW Mag publication. The spread features photos from the night Hopson and ITR explored the empty school three years ago. Photos and words begin to comment on the gentrifying aspect that the apartments imposed on the Schenley community. Additionally, authentic Schenley gym shorts pair with the reading material. The Champion mesh shorts feature a "Schenley" font taken from the basketball jerseys of the 2007 Spartans who won the state championship thanks to legends like DeJuan Blair, DeAndre Kane and D.J. Kennedy.

The magazine spread and shorts combine to create the Schenley High School Memorabilia Collection. Available are 10. More shorts will be available only after the combo sells out. The 11 photos from the excursion around abandoned Schenley High School will release at a later date.

Shop the collection here.

[Shorts model Don Bell & photographs by Alex Young]

"For 400 years? That sounds like a choice." - Kanye West, Slavery in Washington D.C. by Maxwell Young

Last week, performance artists Maya Sun and Maps Glover poignantly resurrected images of American slavery on the greens of Dumbarton House in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.  Completed in 1800, the Federal style landmark is preserved to showcase the lifestyle of the first government officials who took office in the United States' new capital, the District of Columbia.

 Maps Glover and Maya Sun performing ' The Landing ' at the Kennedy Center March 15, 2018.

Maps Glover and Maya Sun performing 'The Landing' at the Kennedy Center March 15, 2018.

Supporting the post-colonial decadence were indentured servants, and while slavery in D.C. wasn't as overt as the textbook cotton-picking, plantation life that is synonymous with the South, slaves were used as chauffeurs, childcare, and to fetch groceries from the market.  In fact, roughly 20 years before the Civil War, Georgetown University sold a number of slaves to settle financial debts.

However, few primary sources of slave life in D.C. remain due to loss and destruction, which is why Maryland-based wood printer Curtis Woods commissioned Sun and Glover to create a moment of tension at Dumbarton House.  Professionals young and old, white and black gathered in the courtyard for wine and cheese, some, noticeably uncomfortable by the two artists' three-part retrospective.

The beginning was lighthearted, though short-lived as they frolicked on the front yard--Glover playing a violin and Sun seemingly care free in a floral dress, braiding Glover's hair.  It was reminiscent of a Sunday on a plantation or after dusk when the master fell asleep, the slaves free to ease the pain and suffering of indentured servitude.  The second part represented a harsher side of reality.  Sun stood on a trading block hooded and chained--livestock--while Glover observed the scene through the reflection of a broken mirror pane as if to recall the original context of why his ancestors and other black bodies were brought to America.  Later, Sun emerged from Dumbarton House dressed in a suit introducing herself as "Professor Sun."  Not only was this a liberating juxtaposition to images of bondage, but it also symbolized the knowledge and power of black people, integral to the education of future souls.

"I felt appreciated by my ancestors.  I was incredibly moved when I was under the hood.  I was definitely in a different space than what was around me," Sun said.

From a macro lens, Sun and Glover's performance piece was perhaps more relevant given Kanye West's comments calling slavery a choice just a couple days prior.  Where Kanye chose to glaze over realities of oppression and control in the matter of a thirty second sound bite, Sun and Glover echoed two different aspects of slave life with a refusal to forget the African American experience.

Black Politics in Pittsburgh by Alex Young

 Graphic by Quaishawn Whitlock

Graphic by Quaishawn Whitlock

There's a "crack" in the old-guard political system, which presents opportunities for people to "run for office who have sat and let other people run," Kevin Carter said. Carter is in the third year of his first term on the Pittsburgh Public School Board of Directors as the Chair of the Business and Finance Committee.

Summer Lee, a current candidate for the Pennsylvania State Representative of District 34, explained during a candidate’s panel at the University of Pittsburgh that she’s running due to a "lack of representation" of black people in public office.

Aerion Abney, a candidate for Pennsylvania's District 19, spoke at the same panel about "renewing lines of accountability" to elected officials.

They are examples of the new era of politics in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, where young black people and women are entering the realm of political activism for the first time, which is causing a progressive shift in leadership.

The “climate in the Pittsburgh region as a whole is why people are ready for new leadership,” Abney said.

A sign of this is apparent with the win of Democratic Representative Conor Lamb of District 18 in March of this year. The district includes communities like Mount Lebanon and Upper St. Clair and Lamb’s win was significant because President Donald Trump won the district by more than 20 percentage points in 2016. Lamb’s race “sends a message that people are ready for some change,” Abney said.

“The region is changing. We’re striving to be more inclusive,” Rep. Austin Davis said.

The shift towards progress gives “opportunities for African Americans [to take office],” Rep. Davis said.

 Rep. Austin Davis in his office in White Oak, Pa. | photograph by Alex Young

Rep. Austin Davis in his office in White Oak, Pa. | photograph by Alex Young

Before Austin Davis became the first African American to be the Pennsylvania State Representative of District 35 on January 23, 2018, there were only two black legislators in Western Pa, Rep. Ed Gainey of District 24 and Rep. Jake Wheatley of District 19.

Now, more black people take public office than ever before, but the consensus is the progress is still not enough.

The disconnect between the establishment with power and community members who face every day struggles are because “Policymakers haven’t lived it,” Lee said at the National Association of Social Workers candidate’s panel on March 19, 2018. So, they have a hard time relating to people’s plight while one “half who live like the Jetsons and the other who live like the Flintstones,” Abney continued.

It comes down to the “covert” dealings of the Grand Old Party to maintain their influence. Abney said, “They don’t want people who don’t look like them to be in [power].” The Old Guard disenfranchises people by affecting their economics and all its connections, like education, job access, and transportation. On their way out, the G.O.P. still lurks to create disadvantages for incoming minority officials.

When Nikole Nesby became Duquesne's first woman African American mayor, the former Duquesne mayor Philip Krivacek and the city manager Frank Piccolino III, two white men, transferred the township's Redevelopment Authority funds of $1.3 million to a new non-profit called the Duquesne Business Advisory Corporation (DBAC), which lists the former mayor as the organization's president.

"They effectively made her ineffective by appropriating her funds elsewhere," Bellevue, Pa. Councilman Valon Pennington said. He was Nesby's classmate in their Local Government Academy which was instruction for newly elected officials. "They economically barred her from her office," Councilman Pennington finished.

Further, Councilman Pennington became the first non-white elected official in Bellevue history this January. He mentioned he suffered personal attacks on his family when the predominantly white community members would "dig into our backgrounds" to find financial and property information he said.

Black public officials and people face racial injustice like this regularly. Councilman Pennington recalls in 2017 when the first black male mayor of Camilla, Ga. Rufus Davis was denied the keys to his office in city hall for two years by a white privileged city council in a 70% black majority community (with a majority white police force who would've thought).

Actions like these limits the building of a black political foundation across the country and in Western Pa., which limits equality and progress nonetheless.

Black people have been constantly represented by white people. Whereas white people find it more difficult to be represented by a black person.
— Kevin Carter

Summer Lee, Aerion Abney, Rep. Jake Wheatley, Mike Devine, Rep. Ed Gainey | photographs by Alex Young

But remember this is a piece of the system of oppression. People like Mayors Davis and Nesby get denied the opportunity to do jobs or gain economic advancements because of a racial prejudice.

The new hipster spot close to a Target, lux apartments, artisanal grocery chains and coffee shops are part of systematic oppression. Call it the gentrifying city development project that affects neighborhoods like Pittsburgh's East Liberty. Demolishing the Penn Plaza apartment complex in East Liberty displaced 200 residents in 2015 according to PublicSource. The 1950s development of Pittsburgh's culturally significant and excellently black lower Hill District neighborhood for the Civic Arena displaced 8,000 residents, which destroyed the historic Hill District.

They’ve “cleansed [locals] out of their own neighborhood through economics,” Abney said. "Development without displacement. How do you build place and build people at the same time?" Abney questioned.

Current officials like Rep. Austin Davis or Rep. Jake Wheatley of District 19 takes responsibility for solving issues such as these that cause disparagement.

Although public officials speak delicately about generalizing issues to specific people or groups because they strive to represent everybody.

The issues that African Americans face are issues that poor people face. They’re not just African American issues. They’re economic issues. They affect black people at a disproportionate rate, but they also affect white people.
— Rep. Austin Davis

For those affected by gentrification, Rep. Davis states they move to his Mon Valley district or Penn Hills according to the Census Tract. He focuses on improving workforce development so those facing displacement or minorities have "access to those jobs," he said.

“I fight for people who are impoverished. We have a second-class city,” Rep. Wheatley said. Yet, he recognizes the “acuteness of poverty as it relates to African American families.”

Kevin Carter with students at Sto Rox High School & Aerion Abney at Arnold's Tea | photographs by Alex Young

Carter feels a "responsibility to the people I represent not just black people," he said. "I can't be the black councilman. That can't be the only thing that I'm here for," Councilman Pennington said. The candidate to represent Pennsylvania’s District 20 Mike Devine echoes that message saying, “everyone is vulnerable in some way or another.”

As representatives of the people, “elected officials have to work together [and] put aside personal politics,” Rep. Davis said. The people of the republic need to hold elected officials accountable as we give them the opportunity to “impact people’s quality of life,” Abney said.

Good Sports Get Involved by Alex Young

 Jake Sullivan & Steven Crump of Good Sports | Photograph by Alex Young

Jake Sullivan & Steven Crump of Good Sports | Photograph by Alex Young

In 2011, Jake Sullivan walked into a local Pittsburgh clothing store called Timebomb. He bought powder blue Wiz Khalifa Taylor Gang Bombay Gin Cup shirts and sold them on eBay.

His enjoyment of clothing turned into a budding apparel and media company in 2015 that he operates with Steven Crump.

At the Make Sure You Have Fun Mixed Threads clothing fair in 2017, Crump and Sullivan were selling their own brand Good Sports. Even cooler, the experience came full circle because Ryan Brown, the designer of the Gin Cup shirt that Sullivan had bought years earlier, hosted the local streetwear market.

People could have “Pittsburgh clothes for the [whole] year if you look into it,” Sullivan said.

Now, Good Sports, Sports for short, is an example of an emerging streetwear culture in the city.

To have a brand you have to have people know the feeling. You want to make it have a meaning.
— Steven Crump
 Photograph by Alex Young

Photograph by Alex Young

I asked if either of the partners skates because that’s the feeling I got looking at their collections, like the latest Exordium. Turns out, only Crump skates, but the love for culture grew from the two’s fondness of Nike SB sneakers back in seventh grade, P-ROD 2 specifically. That’s how they conceptualized “how everything ties together, the shoes, the clothes, the music,” Crump said.

What Sports is trying to do is “get more involved” in the culture. The 23-year-old Bethel Park and Wexford natives in Crump and Sullivan conduct an interview series called Pittsburgh Culture showing the energy coming out of the creative scene and “the ones behind it all.” Musician Linwood and thrift store owner and barber Zed have segments.

To that point, people in the city have been receptive to Sports, obviously, we love our teams, but the Good Sports kind message and general aesthetic promote quality. Crump remembers local rapper Mars Jackson being the first notable person to wear their clothes. InnerviewQ has also been seen wearing Sports.

 Part of the Exordium Collection | Photograph by Sara Zataweski

Part of the Exordium Collection | Photograph by Sara Zataweski

The apparel side of the label isn’t trying to be in your face with its simplistic designs.  “A lot of things are just overdone now,” Crump said. He mentioned the We’re Proud long-sleeve shirt comes from looking at old ‘80s and ‘90s Sports Illustrated. Garments like polos and quarter zips highlight the Exordium range. 

With limited quantities in each Sports collection, “we focus on every little detail because they all matter,” Sullivan said. Patience helps them, as the business pays no attention to typical season-by-season collections.

Down the line, Crump and Sullivan hope to grow into a brick and mortar store for a Pittsburgh foundation.

Sports will produce more clothing when they're ready. "Everything is here it's just how it all gets put together," Crump said. 

The Landing: an Audio Visual Experience by Maxwell Young

 Mr. Wisdom AKA The Oracle practices his soliloquy. Photographs by Russ R. 

Mr. Wisdom AKA The Oracle practices his soliloquy. Photographs by Russ R. 

More like a crash landing because what Uptown Art House presents at the Kennedy Center this Thursday, The Landing, is more than an audio-visual exploration, but an exposé on who has been pushing the arts community in Washington, D.C. over the last several years. 

 Flyer designed by  Richard Mijangos .

Flyer designed by Richard Mijangos.

Jamal Gray, the master curator of Uptown Art House brings together an experienced group of creators across the entire spectrum of the local arts ecosystem.  Featured players Maps Glover, Maya Sun, Mr. Wisdom, Ashley Shey, Ra Nubi, and Yacine Fall have been driving the performance art scene in the city, at times collaborating together in public and private exhibitions.  They are joined by Nag Champa Art Ensemble who is no stranger to playing in hallmark institutions like the Kennedy Center, producer/writer extraordinaire Britt Sankofa, wardrobe designer Afrovelvet, and the man behind the far-out psychedelic visual projections you will see during the production--Jimmy Keith.  Individually these artists have strong movements in their various disciplines.  Those hip to the scene would have experienced their work at venues such as Capital Fring, Black Cat D.C., The Philips Collection, Torpedo Factory or at DIY venues including The Bee Hive, Rhizome, and Uptown Art House.  But together as a troupe, they create a chilling, impactful piece that conveys the power of the arts culture in Washington, D.C.

The Landing is inspired by the 1984 science-fiction film Brother from Another Planet, the philosophies of Sun Ra, and the literature of Octavia Butler, though it is a completely original work.  Lyer (played by Maps Glover), an alien from the planet Sept, arrives on Earth searching for his companion Layan (played by Maya Sun) while experiencing foreign stimulants for the first time.  It is narrated by The Oracle, Mr. Wisdom, who offers a range of thoughts suggesting this intergalactic adventure is pre-ordained by a higher power.

Planning for this hour-long performance began in December.  Having watching several rehearsals, it is a reactionary piece.  Spectators are encouraged to participate, and during some of The Oracle's soliloquies, you'll think his words pertain to you--perhaps they do.  But beyond the improvisation that occurs, the players are feeding off one another's energy and movement.  Its been a resounding sentiment amongst the artists that what happens on stage is a visceral response to how they make each other feel in those moments.  As individuals, they are both actively experiencing the performance and the expressions of their peers, inspiring a totally new understanding of the theatrical piece.

"There's this interesting dichotomy when you are trying to portray this experience or emotion within your movement or gestures alongside other people who are also having this internal experience," said Glover.  "What makes it rich is when you can be inspired by peoples' movement at the same time.  Everyone is going through these internal experiences whether it be them exploring their characters through words or how they're articulating their ideas.”

The Landing: an Audio Visual Experience debuts at the John F. Kennedy Center Millennium Stage on Thursday, March 15 at 6pm.  The event is free.

Stop by Uptown Art House following the show for the after party.

Kennedy Center Millennium Stage

2700 F St. NW

Washington, D.C.