July 20, 2018: “In the mid-1980s, when I was on my high school’s cross-country team, I used to run along Penn Avenue from my hometown, Wilkinsburg, into the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh. I never knew exactly during those days where I entered or exited either city.

Buttressed by the nearby Westinghouse Electric complex, Wilkinsburg’s downtown flowed into East Liberty. Wilkinsburg was mixed, about 53 percent black, and the black residents of Wilkinsburg, including my adoptive parents, worked and went to school in both places. You could easily miss the changing color of the street signs from green (Wilkinsburg) to blue (Pittsburgh). The smell from the Nabisco factory, just across the border on the Pittsburgh side, was a better signal. The buttery smell of Ritz crackers welcomed me into the bigger city.”

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