Monday, June 02, 2014

Bridgeway, Inc. - Community Empowerment Center

(All Images Copyright, 2014, S. E. Jihad Levine, All Rights Reserved -  Exclusive Permission to Use Images Only Given to Bridgeway, Inc. and Clayton (Brother Abdul-Wakeel Shabazz) Morrison)

Also on the corner of 18th and Ontario in North Philadelphia, PA, on Ontario Street, is another mural obituary.  This one belongs to Bridgeway, Inc., which is a community based empowerment center.

Bridgeway has been around since 1975.  It was started by its current executive director, Emily Rollins, who is a native of the Tioga/Nicetown area.  In the 1960s, she witnessed corporations, small businesses, and educational services leave her neighborhood, and they were replaced by violence, drugs, and crime.  Ms. Rollins started Bridgeway out of her home on 1722 West Ontario Street, and since then, Bridgeway has service over 5,000 people a year from her very doorstep.

Bridgeway provides food, transitional housing, educational, and cultural programs to this under-served community.  Ms. Rollins, now in her 80s, still answers her door and answers the call of her community.  she is also helped by a large group of dedicated volunteers that make it possible for Ms. Rollins and her Deputy Director, Yvonne Hughes, to operate Bridgeway.  Ms. Hughes is an ordained minister and President of SCOPE Education Services.  (info taken from Bridgeway's website)

As I was photographing Bridgeway's mural, their Vice President, Clayton (Brother Abdul-Wakeel Shabazz) Morrison stopped by to give me salaams and to chat with me.  It was great spending some time with him and finding out about the mural and the work that Bridgeway does.

The mural is called "The Wall of Wonder," and is dedicated to those "gone but not forgotten" in community service to Bridgeway and the community.

It's a beautiful tribute, and shows how hard people are working to create a better world and opportunities for the neighborhood.

Further details about Bridgeway's wonderful services can be obtained from their website, or you can stop by at the Center at 1722/1800 W. Ontario Street.  Their phone number is 215-226-1983.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tarif Wooden

(Note: All Images Copyright 2014 S. E. Jihad Levine, All Rights Reserved)

According to Philadelphia, PA Police Department records, 350 persons were murdered in the City of Philadelphia in the year of 2003.

A few days before his 22nd birthday, on November 21, 2003, Tarif Wooden became Philadelphia's 315th homicide victim.

Police records state that Tarif died from a gunshot wound, and the official motive for his murder is simply listed as "drugs." 

On the corner of 18th and Ontario in North Philly, there's a beautiful mural dedicated to the memory of Tarif Wooden.  The mural shows a very young African-American man as he looked before somebody's gun brought him down in the prime of his life. 

Who knows what Tarif Wooden could have become or accomplished in this life had he not been murdered, or who he might have turned out to be had he straightened his life out before his lifestyle appears to have taken him out? 

What is clear, for sure, is that Tarif Wooden had a family who loved him.

And friends who loved and cared about him.

Looks like somebody named "Chick," not wanting to be left out, added his/her name later on with some black paint.

As I photograph Tarif's mural, folks walk by, slow down, and reflect on his memory.

The young man stops.  Perhaps to offer his respects?  Maybe he knew Tarif? 

One things is clear: the folks in this neighborhood will never forget Tarif Wooden.

People often forget that although some young men like Tarif (if what they claim about him is true) may have been in the "lifestyle" or that they themselves may have victimized others -- in the end, they are victims.  Victims of violence.

Despite it all, no one deserves to be murdered.

No mother, grandmother, deserves to grieve for a child cut down too soon, before he or she even gets a chance to live life to its fullest potential. 

Everyone deserves a chance to figure it out. 

Tarif Wooden never got a chance to figure it out.  He was robbed.  He was murdered and robbed.