PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The achievements of prominent Black Philadelphians are being recognized in an outdoor exhibit that opens this weekend at Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse in East Fairmount Park.
The exhibit is called "Leaders and Legends." Smith executive director Frances Hoover says it's geared towards the children who play there.
"We feature information that's digestible for kids and also family-based activities and children's books that relate to each honoree," she explained, adding it was important for her to include profiles of people who are doing great things right now.
"We sometimes tend to over and over again honor a select few of great achieving Black Americans," she said, "when we look at black history but I also want people to realize that there are so many more that are out there."
There are also QR codes posted that people can use to hear a recording about each person's accomplishments. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney pointed out a few of the honorees.
"Otis Hackney, who works for us and Marcel Pratt, who was our youngest city solicitor ever," he detailed, "and [former Temple University basketball coach John] Chaney who was like a legend. I mean, you couldn't get more Philadelphia then John Chaney."
Hackney's wife Latoya spoke about her husband, who would, as a young teacher, go to the homes of kids who skipped his class. "They thought he was a truancy officer and he said 'No, I am your child’s math teacher,'" she said. "They weren't in school today and they need to be in school."
Alison Williams Bruno, Iroqouis National Women's World Cup lacrosse coach, came to speak about Tina Sloan Green, who was her lacrosse coach at Temple University.
"We won a national championship in 1984," she said, "and since I graduated from college, she's helped me with my coaching career."
Kenney said recognizing Black Philadelphians is important because, "It's American history month. It's American history that was intentionally not told, on purpose."
This year, Hoover said they're giving away free playing cards of each honoree.
"They could have this at home and these conversations at home and then over time they can collect them, year after year, and keep these stories alive in that way," she said.
Among the banners honoring Black Philadelphians, one was left blank. "It's a selfie opportunity," said Hoover. "We want every kid to believe that they have a future as a leader."