Black Lives Matter in West Philadelphia

Floyd Uprising, Philadelphia 2020
Floyd Uprising, Philadelphia 2020. Photo: The Philadelphia Inquirer and Temple University Urban Archives, from CollaborativeHistory.gse.upenn.edu.

. After careful reflection upon the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, and its importance within our community, the University City Historical Society offers the following statement:

The University City Historical Society condemns racism in all its forms. We realize that too often the established environment itself reflects racism. University City and West Philadelphia are not immune to the effects of exclusionary and racist value systems. Our Board of Governors therefore want to unequivocally state:

UCHS commits to listening to and amplifying Black narratives in our West Philadelphia neighborhoods. We are reaching out to local partners to support the Black heritage woven into the fabric of our community. UCHS is committed to short- and long-term initiatives such as these:

Above all, we recognize that the name of our organization was born of a time when West Philadelphia was in the throes of urban renewal, including Black Bottom, a middle-class Black-enclave virtually decimated by the purposeful growth of local institutions. A portion of our very name, University City, is itself part of the erasure of established Black neighborhoods. This is something we deeply regret as we commit to revisiting the name of our organization. As we begin down a path to be more consciously inclusive of West Philadelphia’s history, we will engage and work with as many of our neighbors as possible.

With better days ahead, we remember that our success as a community depends on everyone having a place at the table and a voice in the proceedings.

Black Bottom Neighborhood, circa 1968
Destruction of the Black Bottom Neighborhood, circa 1968. Photo: Robert Weidenbacher, from the collection of George Poulin.
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