The Legacy Of Olympian And Pittsburgher Herb Douglas

Jun 28, 2019

On today's program: A conversation with the oldest living African American olympic medalist and Pittsburgher Herb Douglas; the Pennsylvania Department of Health says there's no cancer cluster in Washington County, but questions about the rate of rare tumors there remain; Roger Humphries is bringing jazz music to Pittsburgh's rivers; and Pennsylvania could soon join a list of states in requiring paid family leave. 

New book takes a look at the life and olympic legacy of Herb Douglas 
(00:00 — 12:13)

At 97, Herb Douglas is the oldest living African American Olympic medalist. The Pittsburgh native is the subject of the new Heinz History Center book, "LAUNCHED: The Life of Olympian Herb Douglas." Douglas captured the bronze medal competing in the long jump during the 1948 Summer Olympics. He says his love of track and field began during his time at Taylor Allderdice High School when he was inspired by fellow black olympian Jesse Owens. 

Douglas was 26 years old at the 1948 London games where he competed on a team of 300 American athletes; only seven other teammates were black including gold medalist Willie Steel. Douglas still remembers each of their names. 

His olympic fame opened doors to meet two black heads of state: Nelson Mandela and then President Barack Obama. "LAUNCHED: The Life of Olympian Herb Douglas," was written by The Heinz History Center's chief historian Anne Madarasz and is available at the museum gift shop. 

State says there's no cancer cluster in a Washington Co. school district
(12:53 
—  17:35)

People living in a Washington County want the state to take another look to see if the natural gas industry or other environmental aggressors are to blame for a high rate of rare tumors in a school district. The Pennsylvania Department of Health determined earlier this year that there isn't a cancer cluster in the county after studying several cases of Ewing sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, reported there. 

The Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier reports that study excluded two recent cases of Ewing Sarcoma, and one case where the patient’s address was mis-identified. He spoke with residents who want answers. 

Roger Humphries is bringing jazz to the rivers
(17:39 
—  22:11)

Drummer Roger Humphries has played with jazz greats like Ray Charles, Horace Silver, Richard “Groove” Holmes and George Benson. Each year he hosts "Jazz on the River" with his band to benefit the Roger L. Hymphries Sr. scholarship fund which provides resources to help students study music beyond high school. 

Humphries sat down with 90.5 WESA's Bob Studebaker to talk about the origin of the cruise and why he still finds it as important as it was when he started it. The boat ride sets sail this Sunday June 30. Find more information and tickets here

More Pennsylvanians could soon be eligible for Paid Family Leave
(22:12 
—  39:05)

Pennsylvania could join a list of states that require companies offer their employees paid family leave. The Family Act is in the final draft stages and is expected to be introduced to the state Senate in the coming weeks. The bill would expand coverage for those not included under the federally-mandated Family and Medical Leave Act. Joining The Confluence to discuss the potential impact of the bill are:

  • Heather Arnet, CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation; and
  • Democratic Rep. Dan Miller, who represents Allegheny County

Arnett says the new state-specific legislation would finance the program primarily with a new employee payroll deduction of 0.6 cents per dollar. States like California, Washington, New York and New Jersey already have similar programs. Miller expects The Family Act to be introduced in the coming days. 

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich, Julia Maruca, Hannah Gaskill and Avery Keatley contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.