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Social Justice Reading Club

The Association of Gentleman Pittsburgh Journalists


Richard Boyer grew up in the South Hills of Pittsburgh an avid sports and concert fan. Boyer attended his first hockey game at The Igloo in 1969 and closed it out at the last concert. In between, as a Penguins season ticket holder, he experienced some of the greatest moments in Pittsburgh sports history. After graduating from Duquesne University in 1980, he spent his career in the insurance industry as an underwriter, account executive and now President of Exchange Underwriters, an independent insurance agency located in Washington, Pennsylvania. He is a director and Senior Vice President of Community Bank and a chartered property and casualty underwriter, as well as a director with a minority ownership in Stoney’s Brewing Co. Rich has always had a passion for writing and is grateful for the chance that David Finoli has given him in “Integrating Pittsburgh Sports.” Boyer resides in the South Hills of Pittsburgh with his wife, Wendy, and two dogs, Sarah and Sallie. He has four children, Jason, Jessica, Joshua and Jennifer.

Tom Rooney has a four-decades plus career in sports and entertainment and runs The Rooney Sports & Entertainment Group, which consults on development of venues of all types. Rooney also is active in fundraising for nonprofits, including the Chuck Cooper and Josh Gibson foundations.


Having grown up in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, David Finoli is a passionate fan of western Pennsylvania sports, which is the subject of most of the books Finoli has authored. A graduate of the Duquesne University Journalism program, where he is featured on the Duquesne Media department’s “Wall of Fame,” Finoli has penned 38 books that have highlighted the stories of the great franchises in this area, such as the Pirates, Penguins, Steelers, Duquesne basketball and Pitt football, to name a few. In one of Finoli’s latest books, “Pittsburgh’s Greatest Players,” Finoli not only ranks the top 50 players in western Pennsylvania sports history but also includes a list of every Hall of Fame athlete who represented the area. Winner of Pittsburgh Magazine’s “Best of the ’Burgh” local author award for 2018, Finoli lives in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, with his
wife, Vivian.  He has three children, Tony, Cara and Matt, as well as daughters-in-law Chynna and Susan and grandchildren River, Emmy and Ellie.


Samuel W. Black is the Director of the Museum of African American History at the Senator John Heinz History Center. Black is a former President of the Association of African American Museums (2011-16) and served on the Executive Council and the Advisory Council of the Association for the Study of African American Life & History (ASALH) as well as the program committee of the American Alliance of Museums. Black is a member of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society of Pittsburgh and the former Vice President of the ASALH Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch. He serves on the boards of the International Black Business Museum and the Sankofa Village of the Arts as well as the Pennsylvania Historical Association council, where he sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Pennsylvania History. He is the curator of the Negro Leagues, Basketball, Track & Field and Community Sports galleries of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum.


Born in Los Angeles, Douglas Cavanaugh has been a boxing history journalist since the 1990s, his first piece being on his good friend and former mob-controlled lightweight champion of the 1940s, Ike Williams. Over the years, Cavanaugh’s work has appeared in books, magazines and webzines. In studying the history of boxing, he noticed that every major fight town had a book, except Pittsburgh. He set out on a 10-year writing and researching journey, the results being his recently published “Pittsburgh Boxing: A Pictorial History.” Cavanaugh feels honored to have been a part of the “Integrating Pittsburgh Sports” project and hopes it leads to renewed interest in Pittsburgh’s incredibly rich and oft-forgotten boxing history, perhaps even restoring Charley Burley, Jackie Wilson, John Henry Lewis and Harry Bobo (among others) to their rightful place among the Steel City’s greatest athletes and sports heroes.


A graduate of Duquesne University’s Journalism program, Bill Ranier is a lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan, particularly of the Pirates. As an 11-year-old, Rainer attended the game in which Roberto Clemente doubled for his 3,000th career hit. Also as an 11-year-old, Rainer teared up when Bob Moose threw the wild pitch that ended the Pirates’ World Series chances a couple of weeks later. A much older Bill didn’t cry when the ball club lost to the Atlanta Braves in 1992. Rainer just told his guest Don Stape goodnight, shut off the TV and radio and asked God that he not blow up at one of his clients if someone brought up the game the next day. A native of Jeannette, Pennsylvania, Bill lives in Robinson Township, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Marge, and daughters, Sarah and Meghan. He is coauthor of “The Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia,” “When the Bucs Won It All” and “When Cobb Met Wagner.”


Chris Fletcher, based in Forest Hills, Pennsylvania, is a writer, marketer, fundraiser and self-proclaimed “all-around swell guy.” Fletcher is the former publisher and editor of Pittsburgh Magazine, where he won 10 Golden Quill Awards. Under his direction, the magazine earned the prestigious White Award as the country’s top city magazine in 1995 from the City and Regional Magazine Association. Fletcher teamed with David Finoli to author two sports books, “Steel City Gridirons” and “The Steel City 500.” A 1984 graduate of Duquesne University’s Journalism program, Chris still dreams of catching one more contest in the old Civic Arena (provided it wouldn’t be in one of the obstructed-view seats).


Gary Kinn is a graduate of the Duquesne University Journalism program, which he completed concurrently with David Finoli and Chris Fletcher. Kinn has worked in commercial banking and real estate finance in the Philadelphia area since 1983. He has religiously followed professional baseball, hockey and boxing since 1970 and is an avid historian of all three sports. He has attended more than 100 live championship boxing cards in the United States, including in New York City; Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Las Vegas. He lives in New Jersey and still believes that stolen bases are as exciting and important as home runs and strikeouts, that ties in hockey are an acceptable outcome and that there is only one world champion in boxing’s eight weight- class divisions.


Josh Taylor is a sports anchor and reporter with KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh as well as a weekend sports talk radio host at 93.7 FM, “The Fan.” A native of Pittsburgh, Taylor was raised in the Hill District section of the city and is a graduate of Schenley High School and Duquesne University’s journalism program. He has won a Telly Award and two Associated Press awards for his work as a journalist and was honored as one of the New Pittsburgh Courier’s “Men of Excellence” in 2017. Taylor is featured on the Duquesne Media department’s “Wall of Fame."


Robert Edward Healy, III, a Pittsburgh native, is a professor in the Media department at his alma mater of Duquesne University, where he heads Duquesne’s Sports Information and Media program. Prior to teaching, Healy worked as a sports information director and as a news reporter. In 2022, Pittsburgh Magazine honored Healy as one of its “40 Under 40” award winners. He and his daughters, Rhiannon and Josephine, live in Pittsburgh’s South Hills area, where Robert is a youth sports coach and official and the president of the South Park Boxing Club. He is one of the most decorated athletes in Duquesne history.

Dr. Pamela Walck

Pamela E. Walck, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Multiplatform Journalism in the Media department of McAnulty College of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. She received her Ph.D. in Journalism History and Mass Communication from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and holds a M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from Point Park University, Pittsburgh. She received her B.S. degree in Journalism-News Editorial from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Prior to pursuing graduate degrees, Pamela was an award-winning journalist in two states while spending 16 years in the newspaper industry. During that time, she worked in a variety of positions from general assignment reporter and beat reporter to editor and writing coach. Among her award-winning stories for the Savannah Morning News were a two-part series on female veterans that examined what it means to be a veteran and a three-part series examining post-traumatic stress disorder and the problems plaguing the U.S. Army's Warrior Transition Units following the 2007 Walter Reed Medical Center scandal.

Walck's research focuses on newsroom routines and story frames both from a current and a historical perspective. From the present-day perspective, her research examines how modern-day newsrooms utilize social media platforms and technological conventions, such as hashtags, for reporting news and connecting with audiences. From a historical perspective, her research explores how news routines and story frames in the mainstream and black press influenced audience understanding of race and race relations, with a particular focus on World War II. Her dissertation, "Reporting America's 'Colour Problem': How the U.S. and British Press Reported and Framed Racial Conflicts during World War II," explored how — in a war centered on ideologies of racial supremacy — the media reported race and race relations during a critical period in history. She is currently working on a book about the Pittsburgh Courier during the Jessie Vann years.

The Musicians of Smoketown

Dr. James T Johnson Jr., CEO of the Afro American Music Institute, Inc. of Pittsburgh, graduated from Grambling State University in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science degree in music education with emphasis on the violin. He earned his master's degree in 1982 and Ph.D. in 1988 in ethnomusicology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Johnson has been a world traveled jazz musician and music educator for over forty-five years. His travels in music have taken him across America and to the countries of Belgium, Senegal, Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Africa, Ghana, and Canada. As a jazz pianist he has performed with several internationally and world-renowned jazz artists. Additionally, from 1973 to 1977 he served as the school master for the Lakeside School of Music (Shreveport, Louisiana) and was an assistant professor at Wright State University (Dayton, Ohio) from 1990 to 1994. He has also been on the part-time faculty of the Community College of Allegheny County, University of Pittsburgh, Carlow University and Duquesne University. He has also made national tv appearances in the U.S. on PBS, and BET Television, and one national appearance in Belgium.

The Afro American Music Institute (AAMI) which was founded by Johnson and his wife Pamela, is a Pittsburgh based organization dedicated to promoting the arts. This organization has nurtured thousands of musicians through an educational curriculum designed by Dr. Johnson. AAMI began in 1982 as a propriety venture of Dr. Johnson and his wife and has helped thousands of students realize their talent through a curriculum that embraces music throughout the African Diaspora. While mainly serving students from African American communities, a wide variety of students from various ethnic groups also attend.

Johnson has served in numerous administrative capacities throughout the United States and Africa including: U.S. steering committee for the consortium for international public management, policy and development, serving as the chairman for the arts and cultural division; several arts panels for the state arts council of Pennsylvania; vice president of the 21st century jazz congress; judge monitor for the international song competition for Billboard Magazine; executive committee for music education of the Pittsburgh Gateways/American Arts program; vice president for International Community Management, Inc; on the board of Primary Care Healthcare Services in Pittsburgh PA; board member for the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra; Music Director of the Native American Project by Postcommodity, entitled "Hall of Sculpture" which was a redesign of the atrium floor at the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh, and vice chairman of the university consortium and college fair division of the gospel music workshop of America.

In 2009, he received the jazz legends award at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, leading to the chronicling of his life at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. In 2012 he co-founded the jazz coalition which is an organization of educators and performers throughout the nation who are concerned with both the performance practice and education of jazz music. Since 1977, Johnson has served as the Minister of Music for several churches of various denominations including Baptist, C.M.E., Episcopal, and AME. churches.


Dr. Edward Kocher brings exceptional experience, energy, and enthusiasm to the classroom, stage, and the national arts community. From 2014–2019, he served as the inaugural holder of the William Patrick Power, C.S.Sp.,Endowed Faculty Chair in Academic Leadership at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. From 2000–2014, he served as Dean and Professor at Duquesne University's Mary Pappert School of Music. An accomplished trombonist, Kocher's performance credits include tours and recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, on stage performances at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, a 2007 GRAMMY winning recording with Nancy Wilson on the MCG Jazz label, and a host of solo and chamber music performances in America, Europe, and Asia.

An energetic and passionate advocate for the arts, he has served in an impressive array of leadership roles including the Commission for Accreditation for the National Association of Schools of Music, President of the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society and as a member of the Arts Education Collaborative Steering Committee. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors for the Belle Voci intergenerational women's chorus, and the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra. Dr. Kocher is finding great joy in teaching enjoyment of music classes for the broad university population.

Dr. Kocher has made scholarly presentations for the National Association of Schools of Music, American Educational Research Association, and the Management Workshop for Music Executives in Higher Education. His current scholarly agenda focuses on using technology to develop improvisation and performances of music for trombone and organ.

Prior to his appointment at Duquesne University, he served for two decades at DePaul University in Chicago, IL, where he earned competitive grants for technology, improvisation, and diversity initiatives. Kocher earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy Analysis-Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a Master of Arts in Trombone Performance at the University of Iowa, and a Bachelor of Music Education at Northwestern University.