Discuss the significance of Pittsburgh in the drama.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Pittsburgh has some significance in the drama.  The first would be for background purposes.  The drama is inspired by the Bearden portrait of the same name, and Bearden made Pittsburgh the setting for it.  In this, Wilson is doing much of the same in making his backdrop for the drama inspired by the portrait.  In a larger sense, Pittsburgh can be seen as the North, the urban setting for African- Americans who came there as a result of the Great Migration following the Civil War.  In Wilson's mind, this is vitally important as it represents his own questioning of what would have happened had the promises of Reconstruction to African- Americans had been kept.  For millions of African- Americans, the survivors and legacy bearers of slavery, Reconstruction of the South with their own voices as a part of this process was significant.  However, when it became evident that these promises were fraudulent, the movement to the North and to cities like Pittsburgh was almost inevitable.  It is something that Wilson ponders in terms of how life would have changed had the past had been different.  In this, Pittsburgh is an extension of the present tense of broken promises and ruptured dreams and it simultaneously operates as a realm of the conditional, for had things been different, migration might not have been so readily evident.

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