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Legacy Project Tells Stories Of Prominent African Americans With Oral Histories

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

RickDayton Rick Dayton
Rick Dayton joined KDKA in September 2009 as a morning news anchor. ...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

To honor Dr. King’s legacy, PNC is debuting 12 oral histories of prominent African Americans in western Pennsylvania.

Twelve outstanding men and women have been inducted into the PNC Bank Legacy Project as part of its celebration of Black History Month in February.

Now people can hear the stories of the inductees in their own words and voice.

“It’s amazing,” said Demeantria Boccella, the founder of the Utopia Model Agency. “What a tribute to our city and to the African Americans, to the African American community. I just think it’s amazing, just a beautiful, beautiful tribute.”

The people in the exhibit span the years of history – like Wendell Freeland, a Tuskegee Airmen during World War II; Billy Porter, who just won a Tony Award for his work on Broadway last year; and Swin Cash, the MccKeesport native, Olympic gold medal winner and three-time WNBA champion.

“Coming here, and living here, and walking the streets, and seeing all the people here and just sort of really diving into the music scene, I’m just so honored to be a part of such a rich legacy here,” said Sean Jones, the artistic director of Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra.

One of the biggest challenges for the Legacy Project was putting together 12 diverse backgrounds and making it all come together.

They decided to do that by allowing the individuals to tell their story, and they made it as easy as picking up a handset and pushing a button.

“Very diverse – from a generational aspect and then as it relates to the medium in which they work, from sports, the arts, education,” said Boccella. “It’s just phenomenal.”

While Jones says it is an honor to see his name on the wall with such talented and amazing Pittsburghers, he says he really wants to keep his name there.

“It definitely gives me chills to see my name amongst all these wonderful people, and like I said, it just energizes me,” he said. “It makes me want to do more. It makes me want to make sure I am worthy to be on that wall.”

RELATED LINKS:
More Black History Month Stories
More Reports by Rick Dayton

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