How Jitneys Drive their Communities
Born in Los Angeles in 1914, jitneys are underground taxi cabs—informal, unregulated—that have, ever since, gotten people in cities across America where they needed to go. Although Los Angeles outlawed jitneys a few years later, they’ve thrived in places including Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh—where playwright August Wilson set Jitney, the story of a group of 1970s drivers who find their livelihood threatened by the forces of gentrification. In Pittsburgh and elsewhere, jitneys filled a vital need in African-American communities and other neighborhoods that were underserved by public transportation and where taxi services often wouldn’t go. What role do jitneys, and the underground economy in general, play in society—over the past century and today? Join Center Theatre Group and The Museum of African American Art for a discussion of the history behind August Wilson’s Jitney.