Re/Member Black Philly encompasses an increasing number of collaborative projects with community and institutional partners that mobilize multimodal storytelling and archival practices to support community preservation and memory work.
Co-curated by RBP Project Director Krystal Strong and Mike Africa Jr., the Black Resistance Tour of Philadelphia is a physical and virtual guided tour of sites of Black resistance, which document ways ordinary Black folks have organized themselves to resist structural oppression. The Black Resistance Tour highlights Philly’s distinct forms of community-based cultural resistance as a vehicle for societal transformation. Despite the layers of collective trauma and harm woven into Philly’s most marginalized communities and neighborhoods, the city’s legacy of Black radical organizing persists through the cultivation of Black spaces of/through resistance.
Preserving Family Histories is a community data curation initiative aimed at documenting the vibrant historical memories from residents along West Philadelphia’s major financial and cultural corridor, 52nd Street. The Blackwell Free Library regional branch has partnered with Re/Member Black Philadelphia project to encourage dialogue and collect oral histories about family histories and community memories in West Philadelphia and beyond. The Community Data Curation pilot, sponsored by the Council on Library and Information Resources and Penn Libraries, has provided the scanning technology to produce beautifully rendered, high-quality image collections and exhibits, and expertise to preserve the photographs, documents, ephemera and memorabilia that keep the corridor central to lived experience of the Black residents of Philadelphia. This digital community archive will host digitized material, exhibits, and collections while offering communities opportunities to ensure the longevity of their important historical records.
A joint project of MOVE (under the leadership of Mike Africa, Jr.), Re/Member Black Philly and the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, The MOVE Activist Archive preserves the organizational history and memory of The MOVE Organization’s resistance to state violence and state repression of MOVE activism. With the support of a Mellon Community-Based Archives grant, over the next two years and beyond, The MOVE Archive will work to: (1) preserve MOVE organizational materials that are privately held and currently vulnerable; (2) launch a MOVE digital archive; and (3) curate a multimodal exhibition of MOVE history through a series of community programs and immersive experiences. Together, these activities will preserve and amplify the history, memory, and ongoing activism of The MOVE organization and increase public engagement with the historical record and collective memory of one of the most important organizations to the history of Black activism in Philadelphia and global Black freedom struggles.
Community Oral Histories
The RBP Team supported the West Philadelphia High School Alumni Association in collecting oral histories from generations of alumni of the historic public high school at West Fest, the annual alumni reunion, in 2019. The oral histories speak to the precious memories of former students of the beloved high school, whose original location was closed down in 2013, as well as the ongoing efforts of alumni to support current students and preserve the institution’s memory.
Hosted annually on South Street in the historic 7th ward, Odunde is the largest African Street festival in North America and a treasured Black Philadelphia tradition, which was founded in 1975 by Lois Fernandez. In 2018 and 2019, the RBP Team collected oral histories of long-time community members about the significance of the gathering to Black Philadelphians.
As part of the project’s efforts to map meanings and memories of Black Philadelphia to residents, the RBP team collects place-centered oral histories from community members, which speak to the significance of specific neighborhoods, sites, and markers, including: Germantown and 52nd Street in West Philadelphia.