I’m going to Chicago for PastForward 2017. I am a two-time recipient of a diversity scholarship to attend the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual conference. But as I wrote for the Preservation Leadership Forum blog, I am an accidental preservationist:
I love old buildings. I love even more the stories that old buildings hold—they are places where history happened. To borrow a phrase from blues singer Little Milton, “if walls could talk” they would tell stories of faith, determination and triumph. For me, historic preservation is about staking African Americans’ claim to the American story.
One of my first stops will be State and Washington streets to check out the 10-story mural of Muddy Waters.
I’ll also check out the former home of the blues icon. Sadly, the 125-year-old building is under threat of demolition.
Discussions on reUrbanism, preservation and health, and technology will be live streamed. You can sign up as a virtual attendee for free. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #PastForward17.
I’m going to Chicago, y’all.
While in the Windy City, I will use the CTA to get around. NEA Jazz Master and Philly naive Jimmy Heath composed “CTA.” Miles Davis said it was named after Heath’s then-girlfriend Connie Theresa Ann.
The High Priestess of Soul has been nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:
Nina Simone’s unapologetic rage and accusatory voice named names and took no prisoners in the African-American struggle for equality in the early 1960s.
Her triumphant voice sang what it meant to be young, gifted and black in a sometimes unjust and troubled world.
Nina Simone is one of 19 nominees in the Class of 2018.
Information on the induction process is available here. Fans can vote for up to five nominees once a day. Voting is open through 11:59 p.m. on December 5.
As of this writing, Ms. Simone is trailing behind in fan votes.
An unvarnished truth-teller, Nina Simone worked her magic “for the whole round world to hear.” Let’s show her the love that’s in our hearts. Vote early and often.
This year is the centennial of the birth of Thelonious Monk. Monk’s 100th birthday is being celebrated across the country.
For Philadelphia, one day is not enough. Starting at midnight on October 10, WRTI will play his most recognized composition to start off every new broadcast day for a whole year. The station will not have to hit repeat since there are more than 1000 versions of “’Round Midnight.” Fittingly, Monk was a classically trained pianist.
One of my most memorable experiences was attending Monk’s funeral in 1982. The homegoing service was held at Saint Peter’s Church in New York City. Musicians played version-after-version of “’Round Midnight.” It was a loving tribute to the man who composed the most recorded jazz standard in history.
September 24 marked the first anniversary of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, more affectionately known as my home away from home.
From Day One, NMAAHC has had the people’s stamp of approval. In its first year, the museum has welcomed more than two million visitors. Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the museum, said:
We are so grateful to America for making this first year unprecedentedly successful. This first anniversary gives us at the Smithsonian the opportunity to thank everyone for this incredible gift and for making it possible to continue our mission to help America grapple with history by seeing their past through an African American lens – and ultimately help Americans find healing and reconciliation.
NMAAHC has received the stamp of approval of the U.S. Postal Service which issued the “Celebrating African American History and Culture” Forever stamp.
The numbers show that the National Museum of African American History and Culture is a gift to the American people:
- Almost 2.5 million visitors walked through the 400,000-square-foot building.
- Of those visitors, 922 were ambassadors.
- About 10,000 of all 2.5 million people who passed through were between the ages of 4 and 7 years old.
- About 3,000 objects were on display while NMAAHC’s permanent collection is more than 13 times that size, at almost 40,000 objects.
For more info, check out “NMAAHC’s First Year by the Numbers.”
Advocacy works! In 2014, Pennrose Company demolished the “Tribute to John Coltrane” mural that was located at 33rd and Diamond Streets, a short walk from Coltrane’s former residence in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood.
It took a little prodding, but Pennrose stepped up and made a significant contribution to Mural Arts Philadelphia for a new Coltrane mural.
The “Why We Love Coltrane” mural , located at 29th and Diamond Streets, will be dedicated at a public event on Sunday, September 24, 2017, from 1pm to 3pm. All That Philly Jazz is a co-host of the free event.
For background information, listen to WRTI’s interview with Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden and visual artist Ernel Martinez, “A New Mural Rising to Honor John Coltrane.”
Today is the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. UNESCO designated August 23 because it marks the beginning of the 1791 slave rebellion in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) led by Toussaint L’Ouverture.
The 2017 theme, “Remember Slavery: Recognizing the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent,” focuses on the ways in which enslaved Africans and their descendants “influenced and continue to shape societies around the world.”
The under-told story of the Transatlantic Slave Trade is also the focus of a TED-Ed video that has garnered 2.5 million views.
For more info, go here.
Philadelphia is the City of Murals. The murals celebrate events, as well as residents who have made a difference. Few are more celebrated than John Coltrane who moved to Philadelphia in 1943. Coltrane resided in an apartment in Yorktown before buying a house in Strawberry Mansion in 1952. The house is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.
Coltrane kicked his heroin habit and composed “Giant Steps” in that house.
In 2002, the Strawberry Mansion community, in collaboration with the Mural Arts Program, honored their former neighbor. The Pennrose Company demolished the Tribute to John Coltrane mural in 2014.
To be sure, murals come and go. However, there is too much love for Trane to let the demolition go unnoticed. It has taken a while but a new mural celebrating the life and legacy of the jazz innovator will soon be dedicated. The community is invited to add a brushstroke at a public paint day on Saturday, August 19 from 1-3 p.m., at Fairmount Park’s Hatfield House, located at 33rd Street and Girard Avenue.
So get up for the
down brushstroke. Everybody get up and join the Mural Arts Philadelphia, Fairmount Park Conservancy, Strawberry Mansion Neighborhood Action Committee and All That Philly Jazz.
For more info, visit Mural Arts Philadelphia.