Reverend “Andy” Andrew Jenkins
Mantua Community Leader from 1965 to 2011
Dear Mantua and its residents:
I, the Reverend “Andy” Andrew Jenkins would like to say thank you for entrusting me as your community leader for fifty-seven (57) years with the Mantua Community Planners (MCP) organization and later with the Mantua Civic Association (MCA) organization. It was truly a pleasure with growing pains in the early years to work passionately for you and the residents of the Mantua community for five (5) decades. I started my journey in 1961 with the dream that Mantua was a great community that had great promise.
As I am reflecting on my life and times in Mantua with my family and as Mantua’s community leader, I want to thank all of the men and women who worked with me and volunteered their time fighting shoulder to shoulder with me for what was right for Mantua.
Under my leadership, we were able to do some great things together through the challenges and obstacles we faced back then. I was proud to fight for Mantua, the community of 19,000 residents in the early 1960’s because we were a strong family -based community that endured the challenges of life together and was able to reduce gang violence and bring a long-term public housing facility in the Mt. Vernon Manor for low-income residents.
Building those relationships and partnerships with the special entities of “America’s First Zoo” (The Philadelphia Zoo), Drexel University, “America’s First University” (University of Pennsylvania) where I sat on its community advisory board during its inception and my relationship with the City of Philadelphia. It was a rewarding and challenging vision that kept my drive to see a better Mantua, the community I love. I also want to thank many of the other community organizations in Mantua and former gang members who helped reduced gang violence and turned their lives around to be productive people.
More importantly, I want to thank my family for sharing me with a great community where my children Ricky, Denise, Andrea and Duke grew up without fear. And lastly, I want to thank my late wife of fifty-four (54) years Patricia “Pat” Jenkins for her love and support of my dreams for the community I love in Mantua for all of those years.
Mantua Youth, I haven’t forgot you not one bit, I have a Scholarship Fund in my name at the Morton McMichael Elementary School for a deserving male and female student that is rewarded every year starting on June 12, 2020.
Reverend “Andy” Jenkins
Thanks For The Memories Mantua And The Many Accomplishments I Was Able To Achieve Under Your Given Trust And Leadership In Me. This is my story and some of Mantua’s past that you can share your Mantua stories with your families and the next generation. Here’s a look at the journey I’ve walked with my Mantua brothers and sister for fifty-seven (57) years.
Over my years at eighty-three (83) years young, here are some of the proudest moments I share with Mantuans. I know and love, those who never met me or I didn’t know, but I cared about you because of my love for Mantua.
- In 1961, I was actively involved in the Cub Scouts Pack 422 and their safety to meetings at the Mantua Housing Project now called Mantua Square.
- I was vice president of one of the greatest youth organizations in America with the late Dr. Herman C. Wrice in (YGS-Young Great Society in 1964).
I was elected to be President of Mantua Community Planner (MCP) in 1965.
During the time Mantua Community Planners, Inc. (MCP) was created and formed for the vision of a community back then who needed its residents to overcome the challenges and obstacles of gang related violence, poverty, housing, economic and planning for the new Mantua in the 1960’s and 1970’s when African-Americans migrated to Mantua. Mantua’s population at that time was about 19,000 after other non-African-American families moved away.
The location of our MCP offices at that time was on the corner of 35th & Haverford Avenue across from the Grace Lutheran Church.
Our Motto was: “Plan or Be Planned For.” This motto still holds true for Mantua leaders who continued to follow to keep Mantua be a viable community. Then we were responsible for the social, economics, educational and physical planning for Mantua.
- Working with my good brothers and strong women like, the late Dr. Herman C. Wrice (YGS), the late Tim Spencer (MCP & Philadelphia Anti-Graffitti Network, now Philadelphia Mural Arts Program), Donald Grady, Leon Evans, Floyd Smith, Pee Wee Palmer and Pastor Paul Hajedorn of the Grace Lutheran Church and women like the late Abigail Pankey, the late Mary Thomas, the late Doris Hamilton and the late Peggy Jones to name a few. These individuals made my time as Mantua’s leader, truly the most exciting times in my life, next to marrying my wife Pat and having our children.
- I was responsible for the City and Federal Renewal Programs involving planning for Mantua in the 1960’s.
- We started one of the first Charter Schools in the city (Mantua-Powelton Middle School.
- We did underground and air studies of Mantua where our findings were that there were two (2) creeks that ran through Mantua which was called the Brandywine and Mt. Vernon water creeks.
- Some of my greatest fights for Mantua were marching on the Democratic Party night meeting with twenty-two men from Mantua in 1967 in which, those men were given City and State jobs.
- We were able to get 35 jobs with General Electric for the Mantua area, Mayor Rizzo gave 44 city jobs in the Department of Sanitation.
- We employed and taught young men to help demolish building in Mantua and supported them to join the Labor Union.
- We were able to renovate over 350 and built over 350 homes in Mantua
- We managed 78 apartments on 38th & Haverford Avenue
- We had a moving truck to assist Mantuans with their moving.
- With the assistance of Quakers, we were able to help over 13,000 items for families to enjoy their Christmas and blessing their children.
- MCP organized 92 Block Captains in Mantua and supervised a major backyard and alley-way cleaning for the 92 blocks in Mantua to cut down on the rat population.
- Named the mini park at 35th & Wallace Street after Mrs. Cassie Stuart.
- I enjoyed traveling to New York to see my good friend, the late Malcolm X and talking with the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his visit to Mantua and marching with him on Saturday, August 3, 1965 during his speech to 10,000 people about the community issues of our time and how we were addressing them in the black community.
- I worked with the Black Panther organization by being the one when they came for their breakfast program receiving food from the Thriftway Supermarket at 34th Street.
- We had a Credit Union, a Radio show on Channel 12 funded by the old Schmidt’s Beer Company, a Bike program, a Garden program with students at McMichael. We had an MCP newspaper, a food program and worked with the University of Pennsylvania professor to reduce gang wars in the streets of Mantua with the Young Great Society organization.
- Mantua Community Planners had a Credit Union, a Radio show on Channel 12 funded by the old Schmidt’s Beer Company, a Bike program, a Garden program with students at McMichael. We had an MCP newspaper, a food program and worked with the University of Pennsylvania professor to reduce gang wars in the streets of Mantua with the Young Great Society organization.
- We had a Health Center and Dental Office at 33rd & Haverford Avenue.
- We had Police Community Agents that allowed the men who worked with the gangs to enter any Police station and represent any kid in the Mantua community through Mayor Frank Rizzo.
- We had a Branch office of the State unemployment office in Mantua.
- We had an architect workshop program to plan for the community
- We had a lunch program in the park which was the largest lunch program with 22 buses leaving the Mantua community.
- We had a Mantua Community Planners Interns and opened Club Houses for teenagers.
- Under my leadership, we created youth programs for youngsters in Mantua year-round to 5,000 youths.
- And I was most proud with getting the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Recreation to build three (3) new playgrounds in Mantua (1) Wallace Street Playground at 33rd & Wallace Street, (2) (37th Street Playground at 37th & Mt. Vernon Street and (3) the Norman “Butch” Ellis Playground formerly known as 39th Street Playground to curb gang violence and create safe play areas for our young people and an indoor recreation facility (named James L. Wright) with an office (MCP’s Branch office upstairs), and a library (named Charles S. Durham) in 1978. Mc Alpin Playground now called Miles Mack Playground at 36th & Aspen Street was the “Epicenter Playground” where all the major activities were held back then and the neutral playground for gang members who wanted to be a part of some great activities.
Helping to reduce gang violence that plagued Mantua
- I personally worked with five (5) gangs in Mantua under the MCP banner (Empire, HUB, 32nd Street, 36th Street and 39th & Aspen Street gangs).
- Inviting gang members to my home to resolve gang beefs, some coming home from prison seeking employment and giving them encouragement to be productive in Mantua. And we would visit inmates from Mantua with the assistance from the Grace Luther Church.
- We rewarded gang leaders for their role in reducing gang violence with a trip to Puerto Rico.
Our doors at 3609 W. Spring Garden Street were always open to serve my beloved Mantua community.
- Having my late wife Patricia making graduation and wedding gowns and dresses in the house.
- Having church choirs meet to rehearse and hearing my son Ricky’s group “Pure Gold” rehearsing in the basement.
- Seniors called the “Red Hatters” would meet at the house.
- The Mantua Civic Association (MCA) would hold their Board Meetings in my home.
Mantua Gets Low-Income Housing
- I was able to secure $1.4 million dollars from then Mayor Frank Rizzo for the creation of the 125 apartments called the Mt. Vernon Manor Apartments for low-income housing in Mantua. I was the owner and overseer of the Mt. Vernon Manor Apartments for 33 years and proud that we managed 9 units with no monies given from HUD during those years of operating as its president.
Welcoming young leadership in Mantua like
- Michael Thorpe (Current President of Mt. Vernon Manor Apartments and its CDC), the late Tim Spencer (former Executive Director of MCP), DeWayne Drummond (President of the Mantua Civic Association –MCA), Jim Brown
(West Philadelphia community news reporter), Maurice Harris (Mantua Community Activist), Gwen Morris (Mantua Civic Association) and Samantha “Sam” Palmer (Mantua Civic Association)
Recently I was honored by the Morton McMichael Elementary School in Mantua, by renaming of auditorium on Friday, April 12, 2019 now called “The Rev. Dr. Andy & Patricia Jenkins Auditorium” at the McMichael Elementary School. I was also enshrined in McMichael’s “Knowing Your Neighborhood Heroes” Wall of Fame in 2009.
My last assignment for the Mantua community And Some Historic Visits
- I spoke to the Planning Committee for the rezoning in Mantua in the City of Philadelphia Council Chambers. After my speech, the zoning was passed in two (2) minutes.
- We had a visit by President Bush at the West Phila Boys & Girls Club and acknowledged Dr. Wrice’s grass roots program on the “War Against Drugs” and a visit from President Johnson’s wife who was known as Lady Bird Johnson as she planted a tree at 37th & Mt. Vernon Street.
- We had a mural program for the two (2) bridges coming into Mantua (The Spring Garden Street and The 34th Street Bridges).
My Farewell Letter To Mantua And The Many Accomplishments I Was Able To Achieve Under Your Given Trust And Leadership In Me.
Working for the City of Philadelphia in City Government
I worked under six (6) City of Philadelphia Mayors and I was always allowed to work in and for Mantua to serve you. Mayors were James Tate, Frank Rizzo, Bill Green, Wilson Goode, Ed Rendell and John Street.
- I was grateful for the late Sam Evans for a city job when I was employed with the Phila. Anti-Poverty program, I wrote the Nurses Program Proposal for Girard Institute, a study in China town and the City’s State Stores in the early 1970’s now called Wine & Spirits. The City sent $92 million dollars to the State of Pennsylvania
- Mayor Rizzo hired me for a position as a Relocation Director for the Redevelopment Authority and I later became the Executive Director of the Redevelopment Authority under then Mayor Wilson Goode, I had 137 employees and it was the biggest Redevelopment organization in the United States at that time. With Mayor Ed Rendell, I was appointed as a Deputy of Housing Mayor with his administration.
- I supervised the relocation of trailer homes in the Eastwick section of Phila for the expansion of the Airport. Also relocating people on Osage Avenue after the MOVE bombing with Mayor Wilson Goode.
- As an Executive Director, I signed the papers for the new Pennsylvania Convention Center to be built. I was also the Chairman of the Board of the Gallery 1 and 2. The sad part about this relocation was that we had to do a reinternment, because it was an African-American burial site at that time.
My Service and My Family
- I served in the U.S. Air Force and married my wife in Mantua in 1959 on the 3800 block of Fairmount Avenue, then we became the ninth (9) family to move in the then new Mantua Hall Projects at 35th & Fairmount Avenue, where me and the late Dr. Herman C. Wrice would look out of our high-rise windows with binoculars to keep up with gang activities.
- My mother, the late Madeline Jenkins raised and cared for 11 children and I was the middle child when my father left us. But we stayed church-minded and education and service was my ticket that led me to my passion for serving the Mantua community.
In closing, my life has always been about service and serving the community of Mantua whom I love dearly. Thank you, Mantua. Share the stories and history of Mantua as you read and reflect with me on a community we love called Mantua. Rev. Dr. Andy Jenkins