Mr Ken

The last time I posted about Philly Thrive at the beginning of August, it was shortly after the victory in the fight to ensure that the huge oil refinery in South Philly stayed closed.  The theme of that campaign was Right to Breathe.

As I indicated in the August post, the Grays Ferry community now faced the task of formulating its next campaign.  After months of discussion (mostly on Zoom), Philly Thrive announced its new campaign with the theme Right to Thrive. “This campaign seeks to repair 154 years of violence by achieving a complete clean up of the land, dignified jobs & investment in surrounding neighborhoods, and a permanent seat at the table for residents most impacted by the land.”

After a virtual launch of the Right to Thrive campaign on Thursday, October 22, we had a parade through Grays Ferry on Saturday, October 24, to launch the campaign in the neighborhood.  Before we set off, neighbors and allies gathered at Stinger Square Park to hear speeches, poems, and performances about the campaign.  (That’s me sitting on the bench in the background of the picture above.)

My job in the parade was to give a ride to one of the neighbors who, like me, could not walk the entire 1.5 miles route.  Our cars were decorated for the occasion.  Here’s mine.

We were the last car in the parade because the people who decorated my car had fastened a paper sign to the window that had to be re-arranged when my passenger opened the window as part of our social distancing measures.  She was in the back seat and we both wore masks.

As is the custom in this community, my passenger was addressed as “Ms. D….” because she had attained a certain gravitas with age.  During our conversation in the hour-long, slow ride behind the marchers, the question of age came up and I told her that I was 76 years old.  After that, she introduced me to everyone as “Mr. Ken.”  Somehow I like that as much as I don’t like it when middle-aged men call me “sir.”

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