E6: How do spaces and places function in resistance movements? (Rhetorics of Place: Part 1) (w/ Derek Handley & Liana Maneese)

On this week’s episode, our guests speak with us about how two distinct locations – featuring two billboards – in the city of Pittsburgh played remarkable roles in social movements and controversies over urban spaces. In our first conversation, we speak with Derek Handley (recent Carnegie Mellon Rhetoric PhD. graduate and soon-to-be faculty at Lehigh University) about his study of “Freedom Corner” in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, and how it functioned as a location and a resource for arguments against urban renewal practices in that neighborhood. Then, we talk to Liana Maneese, a social practice artist and entrepreneur with The Good Peoples Group, about a recent controversy in the neighborhood of East Liberty over a billboard whose text read: “There are black people in the future.”

Through these conversations, we explore how contestations over places play out in urban communities, as well as the linkages between African American social movements, language, and the ownership of space.

Cover image: The original billboard located at Freedom Corner, circa 1960 (Image source), and Alisha Wormsley's "There are black people in the future" installment at "The Last Billboard."


Works & Concepts Cited in this Episode:

Endres, D., & Senda-Cook, S. (2011). Location matters: The rhetoric of place in protest. Quarterly Journal of Speech97(3), 257-282.


Handley, Derek G. (forthcoming). “The line drawn”: Freedom corner and rhetorics of place in Pittsburgh, 1960s-2000s. Rhetoric Review.

Toni Morrison’s Nobel Lecture, in which she states “Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence”:


Whitaker, Mark. (2018). Smoketown: The untold story of the other great black renaissance. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.


Wilson, Kirt. (2002). The reconstruction desegregation debate: The politics of equality and the rhetoric of place. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.

Alisha B. Wormsley’s “There Are Black People in the Future” Project:


Young, Vershawn A. (2007). Your average nigga: Performing race, literacy, and masculinity. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.


Check out Liana Maneese’s company The Good Peoples Group here: http://thegoodpeoplesgroup.com/

Also, check out some of the details about her Adopting Identity project here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/adopting-identity-lies-luck-and-legitimacy#/


Alex Helberg