Dr. Huang’s Time-Traveling Project Inspires Discussion and Connections during Juneteenth Events

July 3, 2024

The Time-Traveling Project by Assistant Professor Tim Huang (ICDS) takes participants back to the past of Pittsburgh’s Hill District, using virtual reality (VR) headsets and the photography of Teenie Harris.

Huang, who also previously showcased the project at Homecoming and the Governor’s Residence, recently brought the project to the State Museum of Pennsylvania and the Ammons Recreation Center in the Hill District for Juneteenth, which commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States.

The Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs organized the Juneteenth Recognition event held at the State Museum of Pennsylvania on June 12. There, Huang was able to reconnect with people who had interacted with the project during his visit at the Governor’s Residence in March as well as connect with new individuals seeing the project for the first time.

“Their encouragement motivated me to delve deeper into the project, aiming to refine and expand it for a broader audience,” Huang said. “This event showed the importance of our project in preserving African American cultural heritage and garnered attention from individuals and communities who may have an impact down the road.”

Huang attended another Juneteenth celebration at the Ammons Recreation Center on June 18, organized by the Macedonia Family and Community Enrichment Center (Macedonia FACE), a community-based social service organization. The interactive aspect of the project sparked meaningful dialogue among attendees, demonstrating the project’s value in engaging local residents.

“One standout interaction was with an older resident who shared their personal memories of the Hill District while experiencing the VR and then invited their grandkids to try the VR,” Huang recalled. “These moments show the project's potential to evoke powerful emotions and preserve personal and collective histories.”

Huang’s experiences at these events influenced his next steps for the project, reinforcing the importance of community involvement in the project.

“Moving forward, we plan to incorporate more community-driven content and stories into the VR experience, ensuring it reflects the diverse voices and memories of Hill District residents,” Huang said. “Additionally, the conversations with state-level stakeholders at the State Museum event highlighted the opportunity to expand the visibility of the project. Their support and interest have motivated us to pursue further collaborations and expand the project's reach and impact beyond Pittsburgh.”

Learn more about the Time-Traveling Project.