Nov 1

Late Tireless Community Leader, Flossie Reddick, has Mural Dedicated to Her Memory

by: Natalie Pompilio

The first line in Flossie Reddick’s obituary says it all. She was “a woman who gave her life to helping others.” Reddick died in the early 1980s at age 84, but she was remembered and honored in September when Kaia Hagopian’s bright and beautiful Wild Medicine: Mugwort, Mullein, and Mallow was unveiled and dedicated to her memory.

The mural, the 15th in the Eco Mural Series, adorns a wall on the same West Philadelphia block where Reddick’s non-profit, Rafters Charities, opened in 1967. Rafters, according to Reddick’s obituary, offered multiple services that “ranged from care for the elderly to hot lunches for hungry children, to places to stay.”

Real estate developer Spak Group learned of Reddick’s connection to the 5000 block of Baltimore Avenue while researching properties it developed there. The company contacted Mural Arts Philadelphia, which happily dedicated the mural, the 15th Eco Mural series, to Reddick’s memory. Spak has long been committed to public art and Mural Arts, providing financial support for other murals, including Breaking Chains, Keep Going, and Flight.

Reddick was a tireless community leader who established Rafters in 1967 as “an organization designed to help anyone and everyone who needed help,” according to her obituary. The name was inspired by Reddick’s father, a Georgia minister, who told his 19 children to “always reach for the rafters.”

 

  • Wild Medicine: Mugwort, Mullein, & Mallow dedication, Septeber 18, 2022. Photo by Nasir Small of Immortal Vision Studio.

  • Wild Medicine: Mugwort, Mullein, & Mallow © 2022 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Kala Hagopian, 5050 Baltimore Avenue. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Wild Medicine: Mugwort, Mullein, & Mallow © 2022 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Kala Hagopian, 5050 Baltimore Avenue. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Wild Medicine: Mugwort, Mullein, & Mallow © 2022 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Kala Hagopian, 5050 Baltimore Avenue. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Wild Medicine: Mugwort, Mullein, & Mallow © 2022 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Kala Hagopian, 5050 Baltimore Avenue. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Wild Medicine: Mugwort, Mullein, & Mallow © 2022 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Kala Hagopian, 5050 Baltimore Avenue. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Ryan Spak, founder of the Spak Group, called Reddick “a force to be reckoned with.” The company began researching her background about four years ago, putting out Facebook pleas for descendants to come forward with stories of her life. The company learned that when Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. came to the city for a march at 40th  Street and Lancaster Avenue, he had lunch with Reddick.

Reddick, executive director of the Philadelphia Tribune Charities for 14 years, ran a thrift store to keep Rafters afloat. She also relied on funds from local churches and social groups. When money ran low, Reddick “staged bike-a-thons, luncheons, fashion shows, and dances to raise funds,” her obituary noted. “And when there was a shortage, she went out and raised money herself.”

Reddick would undoubtedly have approved of the commitment the Spak Group and Mural Arts Philadelphia have made to this part of Cedar Park. Spak’s company is building an inclusionary housing project with 12 apartments and two commercial storefronts. Three of the apartments are designed for low-income housing. The rent from the nine market-rate units will subsidize the three dedicated to affordable rates.

The new mural encourages self-sufficiency, featuring local plants that are edible and have medicinal benefits but are often dismissed as weeds. Residents can find these plants in even the most developed neighborhoods.

The Spak Group tried to locate Reddick family members for years without luck. Then a few days before the mural’s September dedication, Reddick family members had lunch near the block, and older members told stories of Flossie’s work. That prompted another family member to seek more information about Reddick, which led them to the Spak Group. Family members were there when the mural was dedicated.

Last updated: Oct 24, 2022

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