Pirates' Heritage Weekend celebrates Legacy of Hope


YINKA AGANGA-WILLIAMS—Executive director, Ajpo (Photos by J.L. Martello)

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Heritage Weekend Celebration, held at PNC Park last week, was a great celebration indeed.
The event kicked off with Zumba on Federal. The Pirates brought in the Latin Rhythmz and Oxford Athletic Club that led a dance class outside of PNC Park; from what I witnessed “Dancing With The Stars,” eat your heart out.  Last Friday also featured the Community Champions Awards.  During the pre-game ceremony that took place on the field at PNC Park, 2014 Community Champion Awards were presented to several individuals making significant strides in their profession to better the community. The   award recipients were Yinka Aganga-Williams, Phyllis Comer, Larry Jones, Keith Key, La’Tasha Mayes and Michael Morris. The awards were presented by Pirates President Frank Coonelly.
Chaz Kellem, manager of Diversity Initiatives for the Pirates said, “Overall the heritage weekend celebration was a success, as far as showcasing and highlighting the African-American community was concerned with a special emphasis being put on the Negro Leagues.”
I asked Kellem about Zumba on Federal and the Faith Night events that were not really meant to be a part of the Heritage Weekend Celebration. He explained that “even though there were other cultures profiled, the African-American culture will always be something that we will recognize and celebrate. Zumba Night and Faith Night were created to cultivate a more welcoming atmosphere for our fans. We understand that these activities are also important to our organization.”
I was really impressed by Faith Night. It was a celebration of family community values and faith. It reminded me of a spiritual version of “we are family.”
After the game the inspirational speakers were but not limited to; reigning NL MVP Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen, Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle, NL All-Star third baseman Pedro Alvarez, and Pittsburgh’s own Pirates second baseman Neil Walker.
As far as the future of the event is concerned, I asked Kellem if he might consider a multi-cultural heritage weekend?
“That is definitely something to consider because I personally believe that we can all learn about various cultures together and from each other.”
The 2014 Heritage Weekend Celebration was successful once again and judging by the people who were dancing in the streets around PNC Park, the affair set a perfect example leading up to Independence Day and what our country really stands for.

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