By Robert Zullo
Luis Clemente remembers the baseball seasons he spent in Pittsburgh as a child fondly.
"We loved coming to Pittsburgh as kids," said Mr. Clemente, one of three sons of legendary Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente. "For us, Pittsburgh was a source of fun."
The older he got, however, the more he noticed the differences between western Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico, where he, his father and brothers all were born.
"I realized there were not many Latinos," said Mr. Clemente, 48, who lives in Puerto Rico but visits Pittsburgh frequently.
Mr. Clemente was among the speakers in the lobby of the City-County Building on Grant Street this morning as Mayor Bill Peduto proclaimed "National Welcoming Week," a nationwide event aimed at highlighting the contributions of immigrants to American communities. It is organized by Welcoming America, a national collaborative that "promotes mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and U.S.-born Americans."
Speaking in front of the famous "angel wing" photo of Mr. Clemente taken during spring training 1960, on loan from the Clemente museum in Lawrenceville, Mr. Peduto said Pittsburgh has not always been a "welcoming city."
"We were the type of city that said, 'We're fine. We don't need anybody new,'" the mayor said, launching an exhibit featuring portraits of Bhutanese, Burmese, and Karen community members and commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month. Additional items on display for the next month include textiles made by rural Andean women,provided by local nonprofit Awamaki, and "Hear Me" kiosks set to play stories from immigrants and Latino youth in Pittsburgh. The exhibit, sponsored by ImaginePittsburgh and ¡Hola Pittsburgh!, dovetails with Mr. Peduto's "Welcoming Pittsburgh" initiative, which includes a 40-member advisory council whose work will be focused on making the city more inviting to immigrants.
"It's a culture change and we're all about culture change," Mr. Peduto said. "The future of Pittsburgh is going to be vastly different. It's not going to be southern and eastern Europeans and people from the southern United States ... It will be people from Asia, people from Africa, people from the Caribbean, South America and Central America. And they're going to be the future ... We have to be the type of city that recognizes that and welcomes that."