African-American Feed

May a shark swallow Jefferson Davis

Union versus Confederacy in Civil War Museum

Old Frederick County Courthouse Civil War Museum Guide Carol Miller recounts that Winchester Virginia changed hands many times between the Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War. And during the war, the Courthouse was used as a hospital, barracks and a prison by both sides. During restoration, a curse on the Confederacy President Jefferson Davis was found carved into the wall in the upstairs area, presumably by a union soldier,  and is on view with many rifles, swords, shot,  and  relics of the conflict. Miller read the inscription aloud from memory and says its imagery reflects influence of the fraternal organization of Masons. "To Jeff Davis may he be set afloat on a boat without compass or rudder then that any contents be swallowed by a shark the shark by a whale whale in the devils belly and the devil in hell the gates locked the key lost. And further may he be put in the north west corner with a south east wind blowing ashes in his eyes for all eternity."

Watch video here

May a shark swallow Jefferson Davis


McDonald's high school worker aims higher

mcdonalds worker

Danielle Taylor of Germantown, a 12th grader home schooled through Agora Cyber Charter School, works 30 hours a week at the Chestnut Hill McDonald’s. She’s paid at the rate of $7.25 an hour which she thinks is OK for someone, like herself, in high school. She gets no benefits; after a year’s work she may be entitled to a raise of 25 cents an hour. Her goal is to attend college, major in business and technology – and it sounds like she wants to stay out of the fast food industry.

Danielle was interviewed on Thursday December 5th, a day when fast food workers in 100 cities across the nation staged walkouts in support of the right to unionize and demands for a more livable wage.

Watch video interview here


Studies Tajweed, taking family to Mecca

Studies Tajweed, taking family to Medina and Mecca

Rashid Abdul/Majid, a practicing Muslim, turns to his Arabic language books during breaks in his substitute-teaching class schedule on a recent day at Parkway Northwest High School in Mount Airy. He is currently studying Arabic, taking one class on the Arabic language- grammar and sentence structure, and another, called Tajweed, on how to recite from the Koran. A recently retired driver of 38 years with SEPTA who has been simultaneously substituting for many years, he loves to travel around the world and has visited China and many countries in Africa. During the upcoming March spring break, with his wife and son, he is taking a return trip to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Watch video interview here.


They photograph street sounds

Street Sounds Collective takes photos

Nathea Lee, Anthony Dean and  Monica Lyons-Jones (above with a self-portrait) are photographers who, together, form the Philadelphia Street Sounds Collective.  Dean likes how the lighting and weather on the street is always changing.  A postal worker by day, he often shoots at nighttime and is also an avid documenter of the vibrant Philadelphia jazz scene about which he has authored two books. Lee’s photography reflects her loves; she captures the details in flowers, iconic Philadelphia architecture, ballet shoes and more. Jones shoots images reflecting the seasons, feelings and things important to her. A former teacher, she hopes to show how important reading is through photographs of people doing it, such as her portrait of a young girl quietly absorbed in a book. The threesome exhibited and discussed their work in the upstairs of a restaurant/bar in Fairmount as part of the annual fall Philadelphia Open Studios Tours (POST).

Watch video here


Keeps Kenyan farming tradition alive in Philadelphia

Kenya farm tradition to Philadelphia

Watch video interview here. Joseph Mbura, a chemistry and math teacher at the W.B. Saul High School for Agricultural Sciences in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia has loved gardening since his boyhood days in the Kenyan countryside where crops were grown both for food and a source of income.  He started a small organic garden on a section of the school’s spacious grounds to show his students that they, too, can grow their own food. He raises a traditional black bean plant for its succulent leaves which then gets steamed and mixed with onions, tomatoes and spices in a beef or chicken stew. In another plot he has just cleared he will grow “chinsaga,” another green. By Mbura’s side is his daughter Daisy who has her own garden at home and cradled in his arm, his younger daughter, Lily, who he hopes will follow the growing tradition.


Nana's Wicker Back

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Nancy-Ellen sculpted characters from her book “Nana’s Wicker Back.” The title references the scarring pattern on her own grandmother’s back from whippings as a slave. “These women are bought and sold [many were bore] into slavery who were regarded as mules or just property. Yet I wanted to depict that they had spirits, they had souls, they fell in love, they cried and some were very overt in personality some were very quiet and timid. And I never know what I’m going to make. As I start pushing clay, they start telling me who they are.” Nancy-Ellen. Watch video interview here


Million men marched

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Kelly Starling Lyons, an author of African American theme pictured books, shared her stories with students at the J.S Jenks Middle School in Philadelphia in celebration of Black History month in February.

One Million Men and Me is based on Lyons attending the Million Man March in Washington, DC in 1995 and seeing a little girl there with her father. In Lyons’ eyes the little girl looked like a princess surrounded by a sea of princes and kings. Lyons has met several men who were moved by their participation at the event to become leaders in the community. Watch Million Men interview here.

Tea Cakes for Tosh, coming out this fall, was inspired by her grandmother who recounted baking cookies called teacakes growing up and grandmother’s stories of her own grandmother’s family who would pop the cookies in their mouths while working out in the field. In Lyons’ re-working, the ancestor is a plantation cook who baked the cookies and, despite being forbidden from keeping any of them, snuck some for the children to eat so they could have a taste of freedom. Watch Tea Cakes video

Ellen’s Broom is about the legalization, during Reconstruction, of the marriages of former slaves. Marriages were not recognized and slave husbands and wives could be sold apart. To show their commitment to one another a slave couple would jump over a broom. In Lyons story, Ellen questions why her parents want to keep the custom. Jumping the broom is a link to the past, and, like other contemporary couples, part of Lyons and her husband made it part of their own wedding. Watch Broom video here.

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