Jan 31, 2024

7th Ward's Legacy: Closing Event Reflections and Community Impact

by: Jenny Donnelly Johnson

In collaboration with The City of Philadelphia Department of Records, Mural Arts, and Little Giant Creative, Legacy Reclaimed celebrates the rich tapestry of the vibrant and culturally significant history of Philadelphia’s 7th Ward. Previously home to a bustling community of over 15,000 Black residents, the 7th Ward’s legacy was shaped by the Underground Railroad, the Great Migration, and the tireless efforts of influential figures such as Theodore Starr, Octavius V. Catto, and W.E.B.Du Bois. This project is generously funded by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and the Philadelphia City Fund.

This immersive journey into Philadelphia’s heritage, The 7th Ward Tribute project, wraps up this month with three events.  There will be a Salon Discussion on Wednesday, February 7, from 6-8 pm at Mother Bethel AME Church. The event, Black City Makers: A Conversation About Cultural Historical Preservation, is presented in partnership with WURD Radio with on-air host Dr. James Peterson, who will be moderating while doing a live broadcast of his show. The discussion will be about the importance of preserving and celebrating the depth of wealth in Black history and culture of Philadelphia, focusing on the 7th Ward as a central piece of the city’s heritage. Speakers include Amber N. Wiley, PhD and Lenwood Sloan.

There will be a Closing Reception in the Mezzanine of Rex at the Royal on Friday February 23rd, from 6-9 pm. Our project partners, special guests, family, and friends will join us for one last toast to the 7th Ward Tribute.  Attendees can engage with the extended gallery of Reflecting Revenants by Amelia Carter, Beth Lewis, and The Time Bandit by Li Sumpter.

We’ll also have a few entries on display from the Center of Architecture and Design’s student competition; this year’s theme was focused on the 7th Ward.

And lastly, on Saturday, February 24th, from 12-5 pm at Mother Bethel AME, we will host the CADO Marketplace, a quarterly pop-up for Black entrepreneurs celebrating Black artisans and makers at historic sites in Philly.  For more information, visit  www.7thWardTribute.com.

Mural Arts will be creating a mural in honor of William Still this Spring as part of the 7th Ward Tribute Project. Often called the “Forgotten Father” or “Captain” of the Underground Railroad, William Still was a well-known Black political activist and businessman in 19th-century Philadelphia. He and his wife, Letitia George Still, transformed their home at 625 S Delhi Street into a vital waystation for those coming through the city via the Underground Railroad. As leaders of the abolitionist movement, the Stills assisted the passage of hundreds of enslaved people through the Underground Railroad, including several of Harriet Tubman’s trips to the south. Additionally, William Still is credited with extensive work for the PA Society for the Abolition of Slavery and was an advocate for universal suffrage.  The mural will be installed and dedicated in Summer 2024

Photo caption for header: (L to R): “AT HOME” 1918. Special Collections Research Center, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Octavia Hill Association. Installation Site: 513 Delancey Street. Li Sumpter’s The Time Bandit.  “DRA MU OPERA COMPANY AUDIENCE AT THE ACADEMY OF MUSIC” 1947. Charles L. Blockson. Afro American Collection, By John Mosely. Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA. Installation Site: Rex at The Royal, 1524 South Street.


Last updated: Feb 5, 2024

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