Black Lives Matter in West Philadelphia
. 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:
- Black Lives Matter.
- Black History Matters.
- Black Stories Matter.
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:
- Sponsoring Pennsylvania State Historical Markers of importance to the Black community, e.g. the Black Bottom neighborhood
- Supporting legacy businesses, particularly along historically Black commercial corridors
- Advocating for the adaptive use of existing buildings for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) endeavors
- Programming to uncover the intangible history embedded in our neighborhoods
- Partnering with other neighborhood organizations
- Committing to a diversification of our board
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.