Sep 4, 2015

Dedication: The Johnny Sample Mural

by: Isabelle Singer-Kaufold

On a sweltering Saturday at the end of August, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Philadelphia dedicated a mural of Johnny Sample at the Cobbs Creek Community Center.  The dedication was initially set to be an intimate gathering, but the chairs filled quickly, and people soon began to spill out onto the sidewalk, all listening intently to the speakers at the podium.

Evelyn Sample-Oates, the daughter of the honoree, began the dedication, and was followed by Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony Williams, Mural Arts director Jane Golden and artist Nathaniel Lee.  Other key speakers included family members and friends, the former City Council President of Wilmington, Delaware, and a sports reporter.  Each spoke enthusiastically about Johnny Sample, his extraordinary life, and the hard work and commitment that had gone into the creation of the memorial, which was so brightly colored and eye-catching that it could be easily seen and appreciated by pedestrians and drivers passing by.

The dedication was a wonderful tribute to this sports and radio icon, who served as a role model and inspiration for members of the community, and as a hero to his family.  Not only was he hugely talented and impactful in the sports world, but he was also a West Philadelphia resident and spent a great deal of time in the Cobbs Creek Community, dedicated to bringing sports and positive interaction to the community.

History is not always captured in textbooks, and so we need ways to remember the people who are important and transformational in our communities. For his family and the community, the mural is a way of keeping his spirit and legacy alive, and celebrating his many achievements. The mural is a physical, beautiful reminder that community members have the power to ignite change and make a difference.

Last updated: Mar 21, 2016

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