New Book Celebrates Rooney's Legacy On And Off The Field

Oct 28, 2019

 

On today's program: Jim Rooney honors his father with a new tome; a local company brings dancers to the Hill District; community members gather to remember the 11 victims of the Tree of Life attack; Heinz is celebrating its 150th birthday; and a Pittsburgh-based refugee services program is going national. 

Jim Rooney writes about the legacy and leadership of his father
(00:00 — 13:00) 

Dan Rooney was best known as chairman and president of the Pittsburgh Steelers, leading the franchise to NFL dominance in the 1970s. He was also the prime motivator behind the league policy to hire more minorities as head coaches. Rooney died in April 2017, and now his son, Jim Rooney, has written a book about his father’s legacy: “A Different Way to Win: Dan Rooney's Story, from the Super Bowl to the Rooney Rule.” 

“I like to think my father did things differently from a leadership standpoint,” Jim Rooney says. “He looked as far down the horizon as he could; he stepped into many challenging situations as he could, and he stuck with them for years and even decades to be effective.”

One of those challenges resulted in the NFL adopting the “Rooney Rule,” which requires franchises to interview minority candidates for top positions. 

During the 2018 season, there were eight minority head coaches: seven African-Americans and one Latino. But after the season, five black head coaches were fired.

Jim Rooney says it is a substantial step to have a process for increasing opportunities for minorities, but if his father were still alive, “he would recognize that we have to do a better job." Rooney says a minority coach is more likely to get fired sooner and with a better record than his white counterparts. 

Hill District dance company celebrates the art of black dance
(14:00 — 17:50) 

For more than a decade, The Hill Dance Academy Theatre has been teaching the art of black dance, and in doing so, the dance company has lent itself to preserving and perpetuating the Hill District’s rich cultural heritage. 

Ayisha Morgan-Lee founded the Hill Dance Academy Theatre in 2004, when she says there were too few people of color in dance performances and a lack of education regarding black dance. 90.5 WESA’s Brian Cook reports that dance is only one aspect of the company’s curriculum. Students can also learn about nutrition, acting, administration and behind-the-scenes work like set design and lighting. 

Pittsburghers gather to remember the 11 people lost at Tree of Life
(17:52 — 24:55) 

Eleven candles were lit at a vigil in Pittsburgh Sunday evening for the 11 Jewish worshipers who were killed a year ago at the Tree of Life synagogue. The shooting was the worst anti-Semitic attack on American soil in U.S. history. 90.5 WESA’s Lucy Perkins reports those in attendance were quiet and still during most of the service, though attendees rose to their feet in a standing ovation when Rabbi Jonathan Perlman of New Light Congregation called on state and federal lawmakers to pass gun control legislation.

Rabbi Perlman also asked residents to care for and protect each other, not despite religious differences, but because of them.

At 150, H.J. Heinz Company is more than beans and ketchup
(24:56 — 29:12)

The Pittsburgh-based H.J. Heinz Company turns 150 this year, and to celebrate, Heinz History Center curator Emily Ruby collected stories in a new book, “57 Servings from the Heinz Table.” 

90.5 WESA’s Katie Blackley reports the ‘57 varieties’ associated with Heinz products doesn't actually correspond with the true amount the company produces. Rather, Ruby says, it's included as an advertisement tool. The book includes images of the center’s expansive collection of Heinz artifacts — many of which are on display in the building’s 2,700-square-foot exhibit — accompanied by anecdotes and historical information. 

Hello Neighbor is building a nationwide network
(29:26 — 39:03)

Hello Neighbor has been doing the work of supporting newly resettled refugees in Pittsburgh since 2017, but founder Sloane Davidson says she knew this work was needed in cities across the U.S. from the day the organization began. 

The Pittsburgh-based nonprofit is teaming up with eight other organizations across the country to collaborate on resources and strategies to combat polarization and increase inclusivity for refugees making homes in the U.S. Davidson says refugees need what a good neighbor can provide: advice about navigating the city and public school system, and cultural exchange through activities like shared meals and get-togethers. 

Leaders from all of the participating organizations will gather in Pittsburgh Nov. 13-15 to exchange ideas and discuss the findings of a survey about refugee needs across the country.

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.