Hidden African American Philadelphia of the Twentieth CenturyCharles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection
Foreword by Lonnie G. Bunch III
African American history has produced countless exceptional heroes, leaders, and role models. The graphic novel, BLAM! Black Lives Always Mattered!, tells the inspiring stories of 14 important Black Philadelphians, such as opera singer Marian Anderson, civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois, and “Father of the Harlem Renaissance,” Alain Locke.
Every profile is vibrantly illustrated with facts and images that emphasize each individual’s life and accomplishments. Portraits in this informative volume include architect Julian F. Abele—who designed several Philadelphia landmarks and was the first Black man employed by the white-owned firm—and philanthropist Ruth Wright Hayre—who became the first Black principal of a public high school (William Penn), a superintendent of Philadelphia schools, and the first woman to head the Board of Education in the city.
All of the subjects in BLAM! Black Lives Always Mattered! overcame discrimination and racism as depicted in the vivid graphic panels. Other profiles feature: politicians and civil rights activists Ethel D. Allen and Crystal Bird Fauset; physician Walter P. Lomax; civil engineer Frederick Massiah; civil rights leader and councilman Cecil B. Moore; photojournalist John W. Mosley; Christopher J. Perry, the founder of the Philadelphia Tribune; and the religious leaders, the Reverend Leon H. Sullivan and Father Paul M. Washington.
The graphic panels were designed by an esteemed group of artists of color: Damali Beatty, Akinseye Brown, Dylan Caleho, Andrew Dalhouse, Nancy Devard, Micheline Hess, Mike Leeke, Nile Livingston, Christine Kerrick, Jamar Nicholas, Will Rosado, and Dwayne Turner.
In addition, BLAM! Black Lives Always Mattered! provides activities for students, suggestions for further reading, and sketchbook pages that present the artists’ process. Taken together the images and history show the lasting contributions and pioneering achievements of these notable Black women and men in Philadelphia.
Produced by the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection with the support of the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage
Distributed by Temple University Press for the Charles Blockson Collection
Eric Battle, Illustrator, Curator, and Art Director of the graphic novel project.
Sheena C. Howard, Associate Professor at Rider University, composed the 14 narratives.
Dr. Diane Turner is Director of the graphic novel project and Curator at the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries.
Aslaku Berhanu is Associate Director of the graphic novel project and Librarian at the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries.
"Black Lives Always Mattered! represents a powerful project, documenting in a graphic novel genre, African American Philadelphians who over the last century have both achieved individually while simultaneously fighting against the structures of racism. These stories demonstrate the long-distance race of Black empowerment across generations. Each story demonstrates the power of resilience in the face of challenge and how building strong social networks and drawing on the cultural resources that have sustained people of African descent from the beginning of our presence in this country create success not only for our individual efforts but our collective well-being. Young people in Philadelphia can see these heroes and sheroes in the actual neighborhoods of Philadelphia. The project is a model for other efforts across the country to show young people the power of local organizing in their communities and the power of personal resilience."—Carol D. Lee, Ph.D., Professor of Emeritus, Northwestern University