Posts tagged ‘City Lights’

The Penn Stater Daily — April 25, 2014

Saturday night’s alright: It’s the second-to-last weekend before finals, and there’s plenty to distract University Park students before the time comes to cram for exams. The annual Movin’ On outdoor concert kicks off Saturday at 2:30 with a lineup of six acts; Onward State offers a beginner’s guide to the performers, who range from “indie folk” to hip-hop, while the Collegian has the details on the late switch of headliners from New York rapper A$AP Rocky to Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa. Movin’ On is free as always.

And on Saturday night, the annual Blue and White Film Festival at the State Theatre will showcase the work of student filmmakers. Admission is free for students and $6 for non-students, and the curtain opens at 7 p.m.

Designing playwright: Some cool news on Carrie Fishbein Robbins ’64, who graced the cover of our March/April 2013 issue: The award-winning Broadway costume designer is set to debut two new plays she wrote. Sawbones and The Diamond Eater, one-acts plays Robbins penned, will have their world premieres next month at the off-Broadway HERE Arts Center in New York City. Also in May, Robbins is the main draw at the Alumni Association’s City Lights event, “Behind the Seams on Broadway,” also in NYC.

Out of this world: Onward State gets to know Eric Ford, the astrophysicist who was part of the team whose recent discovery of an Earth-like planet is getting lots of buzz. It’s good stuff, but I’m not gonna pretend I’m not disappointed that they didn’t ask him what kind of dinosaur he’d be.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

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April 25, 2014 at 12:12 pm 1 comment

I May Have to Move to Philadelphia

I’m on the e-mail list for the Alumni Association’s Philadelphia chapter, and I have to say I’m impressed with the events that they (and some nearby chapters as well) put together. The other day I got an e-mail with a pretty cool lineup of events in May and June.

This Saturday they’re working with the Penn State Crew AIG to do a picnic in conjunction with the annual Dad Vail Regatta, and in early June they’ve got a Mural Arts Tour scheduled. I’d actually go down there for the latter event, if not for magazine deadlines and reunion responsibilities that week. I saw some of Philly’s murals —the one shown here, for example—on a trip there in December, and I’d love to do a mural tour sometime.

The chapter is also involved with an Alumni Association City Lights event at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a volunteer opportunity at Philabundance. Nice work, gang.

Tina Hay, editor

May 6, 2010 at 11:24 am Leave a comment

Something to Cheer About for Betty Jean Love Gibbs

Betty, left, and her daughter Cynthia pose after the special presentation at Sunday's City Lights event.

Like the rest of the staff, I’ve been spending a lot of time reading back issues of The Penn Stater and its predecessor, Penn State Alumni News, because we’re approaching the magazine’s 100th anniversary. I’ve learned a lot about Penn State history, so I figured I was well-prepared for the Alumni Association’s City Lights event Sunday in Pittsburgh. It was staged at the new August Wilson Center for African-American Culture, and the title of the lecture by Courtney L. Young, librarian and professor of women’s studies at Penn State Beaver, was “Famous African-American Penn Staters.”

And, yes, I knew the basics about the Penn Staters whose lives Young highlighted. But it was the tale of a woman I’d never heard of—and whose story was nearly lost—that made the biggest impression on me.

Betty Jean Love Gibbs ’56 arrived at Penn State as a talented dancer and gymnast. But when she wanted to try out for the cheerleading squad in 1953, she was told that was impossible. “Negroes are not allowed on the squad,” officials told her.

The story shocked me. Just two issues ago, we featured the Men of ’47, the Penn State football team that refused to play without its two black players and integrated the Cotton Bowl. How was it possible that just a few years later, a black woman wasn’t allowed to be on the cheerleading squad?

Darryl Daisey ’83, who researched Gibbs’ story, isn’t sure, but he has a theory. “In the late 1940s, Penn State was pretty progressive,” he said after the program. “But some things were still taboo, and that included interracial dating and dancing.” He thinks that cheerleading may have fallen into a similar category.

Daisey learned about Gibbs from Charles Blockson ’56, an African-American history expert, and he tracked down the details for his Web site, www.pennstateblackhistory.com. He then told her story at Sunday’s City Lights event, and he and the Alumni Association made a special presentation to Gibbs, giving her a prize-winning photo of her dancing that was taken by Penn State faculty member Edward Leos, a proclamation from Penn State cheerleading coach Curtis White naming her an honorary cheerleader, and her very own official Penn State cheerleading uniform.

Gibbs didn’t let the cheerleading setback hold her back. She competed at the 1956 U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials, and after graduating with a physical education degree, she worked at various YWCAs, danced professionally in New York, and opened Love’s Academy of Dance when she moved back to her hometown, Pittsburgh. She also taught at Pittsburgh’s acclaimed high school for the Creative and Performing Arts.

“I enjoyed my life at Penn State,” Gibbs told the gathering of alumni. “There were some things we could do, and some things we couldn’t do but did anyway. We got an education, and that was the important part.”

You can read more about Love and some of the other prominent black Penn Staters in this story (which had a lot of help from Daisey) from Monday’s Centre Daily Times. And you can find out more about upcoming City Lights programs, which reach out to alumni in five major metropolitan areas (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, New York, and Washington, D.C.) here.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

March 1, 2010 at 11:18 pm 9 comments


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