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Smith Memorial Playground Honors Leaders and Legends of North Philadelphia

Sunshine is on the way for the weekend, so it may be the perfect time to get the family out to Smith Memorial Playground’s inaugural Leaders and Legends of North Philadelphia Black History Month exhibition, which celebrates inspirational African American leaders who have made momentous, positive change in the fields of activism, arts, business, education, public service and sports and have become a part of North Philadelphia’s history.

The exhibition is open for free outdoor, socially distanced viewing on Smith’s property at 3500 Reservoir Drive in East Fairmount Park through February 28. Each display will include biographical information about the honorees as well as highlighted facts for families to “Quiz the Kids” and suggested Philadelphia landmarks, activities, and reading dedicated to or inspired by each honoree that families can explore after they leave Smith.

“We are excited to celebrate the achievements of these important leaders and hope that their inspiring stories will spark conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion among children and their families,” said Frances Hoover, Executive Director of Smith Memorial Playground. “It’s important that children know that many African American heroes, leaders and legends lived and made their mark in Philadelphia, and this year, we are particularly proud to put the spotlight on our North Philadelphia neighborhood.”

The 2021 Leaders and Legends of North Philadelphia honorees and categories include:


  • Joe Frazier aka “Smokin’ Joe” - professional boxer and Olympic Gold Medalist (1964 Tokyo, Japan) most known for defeating Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight title in 1971

  • Kyle Lowry - six-time NBA All Star and Olympic Gold Medalist currently playing for the Toronto Raptors


  • Ken Frazier - the first African American to lead a major Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company as chairman and CEO of Merck, also a lawyer and philanthropist

  • Floyd Alston - community development leader best known for his inaugural leadership of the Beech Corporation and his work to spark the revitalization of North Philadelphia


  • John Coltrane - legendary jazz saxophonist and composer

  • Jill Scott - GRAMMY Award-winning entertainer, multimedia entrepreneur and youth advocate


  • State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta (181st District) - first openly LGBTQ person of color elected to either chamber of the General Assembly in Pennsylvania history

  • Cecil B. Moore - lawyer and civil rights advocate who helped found the Philadelphia Freedom Fighters and fought to desegregate Girard College


  • Linda Cliatt-Wayman - educator and children’s advocate who achieved national acclaim for her turnaround of Strawberry Mansion high school

  • Delores Mitchell Andy - first African American female commissioner of the Philadelphia Recreation Department who was also a community activist and strong supporter of youth


  • Rev. Dr. Leon Sullivan, Jr. - clergyman and human rights activist best known as the pastor of Philadelphia’s Zion Baptist Church who founded the Sullivan Principles (corporate codes of conduct promoting social responsibility)

  • David and Falaka Fattah - community activists best known for founding of the House of Umoja, an organization whose objective is to end gang violence

“We are really proud of this exhibit which our staff of 7 worked hard to select and contact each honoree and to put together this outdoor installation,” said Zoe Lowry, Smith’s associate director of communications.

So, shake off the winter doldrums, soak up the sunshine and get to Smith Memorial Playground for a day of fun, learning and great family time!

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