This Wednesday, SLB Radio Productions (SLB)—producers of the award-winning public radio program,The Saturday Light Brigade—will celebrate the latest release of the Crossing Fences series—an oral history project that connects generations of African American boys, youth and men through conversations.
Crossing Fences takes exemplary stories of men from three neighborhoods—East Liberty, Wilkinsburg and Sto-Rox—and celebrates them through multimedia publications. Participants in the program ranged in age from 10 to 78, with youth conducting interviews of men they consider role models. The men interviewed include PA Representative Ed Gainey, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Emmai Alaquiva, Sto-Rox Elementary School Principal Maurice Wigley, and Reverend Marcus Harvey, CEO of Strength Inc., among others. Youth involved in the program learned multimedia technology, communications and research to produce the work.
Launched by SLB in 2012, previous neighborhoods celebrated in the Crossing Fences series include the Hill District, Homewood, Hazelwood, the Northside, Beltzhoover and McKeesport.
Chanessa Schuler, one of the stewards of the program for SLB, shares how many of the youth find a mentorship connection with the men they interview. Schuler remembers how a boy’s reflection about an interview he conducted particularly struck her. “He called the man he interviewed a ten-minute father figure. They may not say that’s what they need, but that is how it sometimes unfolds.”
She also remembers Quayonte Davis from Sto-Rox, who, after his interview with Willie Murray—a retired Port Authority bus driver—approached his school counselor to ask to be connected to him. “That’s pretty powerful. That’s the goal of the program—for the youth to be able to identify mentors in their community.”
The citywide celebration will be the culminating affair that follows last week’s series of celebrations in the three neighborhoods that participated in this year’s program. During the event, the public will have the opportunity to meet and talk to program participants, hear oral histories and receive copies of the full color book and audio CD of the interview segments. SLB will also share information on the upcoming Crossing Fences programs for 2015 and 2016.
The celebration will take place this Wednesday, December 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Admission is free and more information can be found here.