Juneteenth Celebration at Drexel Park

Rodney (@Rodd18) | Twitter

By Brooklyn Fellner

Just over 200 people gathered at Drexel Park Juneteenth, commemorating the emancipation of the United States’ last slaves. People from across the community danced, relaxed and browsed vendors’ stands as celebratory music blared from a DJ booth. With free food, free drinks and a welcoming atmosphere, organizers’ call for community, equality and engagement met an excited crowd of friends and neighbors.

WKDU, Drexel University’s radio station, provided DJ equipment and speakers for performance artists to use. DJ Chris played music spanning modern rap to 90s hip hop, from caribbean to latin. TYE (@whostye) performed a freestyle about Black Lives Matter that recently brought him attention on Twitter. Other performers included Oliver Wolff (@oliverwxlff) , Nostalgic Nook (@215nook), Ju’lia Danielle (@spokenjewels_), Ray Legend (@official_raylegend), KennethMayfield (@kenneth.mayfield), Jaya Tucker (@therealjayatucker) and Joshua Tucker, aka Osh (@osh_zenith).

While not a specified fundraiser, the event included opportunities to donate to West Kensington Ministry, a local nonprofit that supplied tables for vendors.

Vendors offered a wide array of products, such cosmetics, artwork and clothing. Shop HerMine (@shophermine), founded by Hatian designer Eisha Hermine Casimir, showcased bathing suits that flatter all body types. Inspired by her own name, Casimir’s flyer noted:

“Our mission is to teach everyone how to learn to embrace the beauty in your name.”

This image was taken from shophermine.com
This image was taken from moodclothingcollection.com

Brittany Lewis of Mood Clothing Collection (@itsa_mood) also contributed to the event’s garment selections. Lewis started Mood Clothing Collection about six months ago, making this her shop’s first Juneteenth celebration appearance

Drexel student Kaya Gravesande (@kayag__) set up shop at Drexel Park to sell body care items such as Irish sea moss, shipped African shea butter and African black soap. Gravesande started the business as a response to an internship cancellation. This was also an opportunity to follow in her father’s footsteps, as he owned an African culture shop on South Street for 17 years.

“I grew up in that store, he taught me customer service and everything from a really early age… My co-op got cancelled, so I just decided to start my own business,” she said. 

This image was taken from Gravensande’s Instagram, @kayag__

“My dad has been telling me about this (Juneteenth) for a long time … I heard someone say the year of 2020 is the year of clear vision, 20/20 vision. People are finally waking up and seeing what’s going on, so I’m excited. We should celebrate it every year,” she added.

Wyn Essentials (@wyn_essentials), a natural hair, health and beauty product brand founded by Paden Brown also made an appearance at the Juneteenth celebration. Two eyelash vendors also joined sold goods, including WELOVETISOIT (@welovetisoitx), founded by Chelsea Tisoit and ilashandlace (@ilashandlace), a lash extension service owned by a Drexel student. K.G. Essentials showcased their products as well..

Tianna Williams, President of Drexel’s Black Action Committee, helped organize the event and sold her own art prints, earrings and bracelets under the business name of Rad Cat Arts (@radcatarts). Williams said she takes inspiration from current events and puts it into her artwork. 

Earrings made by Williams from @radcatarts

“Right now, I’ve been really inspired and motivated by what’s happening, and I’m always doing my art from myself as a Black woman,” Williams said.

Event organizer Ariel Bradley explained that the group of organizers wanted to showcase Black businesses in the community in a way that was welcoming, inviting and celebratory. Bradley, who is a Drexel Music Industry student from Germantown, initially expected the event would be very well-attended, as they created a Facebook event that brought tremendous positive feedback. Attendance met Bradley’s expectations, as roughly 200 people from the community showed for the event. 

“I’m very happy, I really enjoyed myself and everyone else enjoyed themselves too!” she said.

Bradley also expressed how important she thinks it is that Juneteenth is a holiday. She said that African Americans do not have many holidays which celebrate their culture, so Juneteenth is a special day in their community.

Bradley spoke on the issue of inequity, highlighting the lack of intergenerational businesses ownership in Black communities, putting young Black entrepreneurs at a disadvantage in getting started. To better support locally Black owned businesses, Bradley said:

 “Give us better education on financial literacy so we know how to use our money to have successful businesses.” 

Marcos Villacorta , a 21 year old EMT and soon to be Temple student who grew up in Kensington, emphasized on how important it was for both events to be safe spaces for women, especially Black trans women, as their community is one of the most oppressed in America. 

Earlier on in the month, Villacorta, with the help of several other event organizers (Bradley included) hosted a candlelight vigil for the life of Breonna Taylor. Girls Rock Philly also had a large presence at the vigil. Girls Rock Philly is a youth organization focused on creating an intergenerational community of girls, women and trans and non conforming-people. 

“Our spaces are inclusive to Black trans women first, and then everyone else comes after. That’s very important for events like this,” he said.

In organizing the Juneteenth cookout, Villacorta noted how publicity for the event spread mostly through social media and word of mouth, making clear the importance of community involvement in holding the event.

“I think the idea of doing it was to highlight businesses that we know in our own circles and out extended circles and to really allow the people who were coming to see these vendors and how much they have to offer,” he said. 

Villacorta expressed how he thinks it is extremely important to reevaluate the way people are educated about Juneteenth, as it has been misrepresented, misexplained and “swept under the rug.” 

“It’s something that needs to be acknowledged at least in American history. It was a point in time when there was some REALLY SHADY SHIT and that’s a parallel of what’s happening today; slavery is not gone. It’s kind of just pushed itself quietly under the prison industrial complex, so by highlighting this holiday, we sort of bring that to the forefront of the conversation,” he added. 

For Villacorta, getting to know your local Black-owned businesses and understanding why they are selling their products is the first step in supporting the community, acknowledging the nation’s inequitable shift towards white-dominant corporatism

“I think our generation, especially our minority population, is going to be the ones to step into corporate affairs and start making their own corporations, but we are also going to see a boom again in local businesses … We will see a lot of empowerment going on in Black and Hispanic and POC communities,” he said. 

Reflecting on the event, Villacorta offered thoughts on recentering the purpose of the cookout:  

“By throwing little celebrations, we’re taking steps towards getting those things put into our history books and put into our youth. Once we are able to get this stuff into their minds, that’s going to change the way they view the world and that’s very important,” he said.

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center on COVID-19

Gov. Tom Wolf visited the staff at the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center today.

The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center demonstrated their preparedness for COVID by ordering PPE for staff in advance to the need for an overwhelming amount to keep up with cases.

The medical center also has a Special Pathogens Team to asses issues that may arise surrounding COVID.

The team at the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical center are striving to return recovering COVID patients to their homes.

“By wearing a mask, we aren’t just protecting ourselves and others from exposure to COVID-19, we are saying ‘thank you’ to the brave health care professionals working day and night to save our lives.” Wolf said.

This information is from: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-thanks-penn-state-health-milton-s-hershey-medical-center-staff-during-visit/

$157.5 Million Now Available for School Health and Safety Grants to Address COVID-19

“The School Safety and Security Committee (SSSC) within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) has approved the opening of two funding announcements totaling $157.5 million that school entities are immediately eligible to apply for to address COVID-19-related health and safety needs for the 2020-2021 school year,” According to Gov Tom Wolf’s website: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-157-5-million-now-available-for-school-health-and-safety-grants-to-address-covid-19/

Wolf Administration Provides Guidance to Resume High School and Other Summer Sports

Today, preliminary guidelines involving high school and recreational sports teams to resume “voluntary workouts,” were released by the Wolf administration, as parts of the state move into the yellow and green phases.

These guidelines will guide participants on how to be safe from COVID during their activities.

Private and public K-12 schools must develop a plan that is goes by the Department of Education’s Guidance for Phased Reopening of Schools. It will also need to be approved by the local board of directors and posted on the school’s website.

Sports teams that are not affiliated with K-12 schools may resume practices as well, if they follow CDC guidelines.

College sports sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) may resume in-person practices following a safety plan that agrees with PDE’s Postsecondary Education Institutions and Adult Education Programs Guidance.

This information is from: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/wolf-administration-provides-guidance-to-resume-high-school-and-other-summer-sports/

SEPTA requires riders to wear masks

Starting today, Monday June 8th, SEPTA is requiring all riders to wear masks as part of the reopening plan.

“To help continue efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, beginning Monday, June 8 everyone riding SEPTA will be required to wear a face mask or covering. #FlattenTheCurve,” SEPTA tweeted Friday.

This information is from: https://6abc.com/travel/septa-now-requiring-riders-to-wear-masks-/6236974/

10 Additional Counties Move to Yellow and 16 to Green on June 5 as part of the re-opening phase

New Yellow phase counties include: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Northampton, Montgomery and Philadelphia

New Green phase counties include: Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clinton, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Lycoming, Mercer, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland

No counties remain in the Red Phase.

This information is from: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/reopening-phase-orders-updated-to-include-10-additional-counties-moving-to-yellow-and-16-to-green-on-june-5/

City of Philadelphia Press Briefing – June 4, 2020

From The City of Philadelphia, live video here:

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Department of Public Health today announced 121 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Philadelphia. That brings the number of confirmed cases to 23,281.

The Department of Public Health noted continued progress in congregate settings, including nursing homes and the Department of Prisons. One additional symptomatic incarcerated individual has tested positive. Testing of asymptomatic incarcerated individuals is ongoing. Current and cumulative totals of positive cases in Philadelphia prisons are posted on the testing and data page of the City’s COVID-19 website.

The Department of Public Health confirmed 70 additional fatalities in Philadelphia. This brings the number of residents who have succumbed to the virus in Philadelphia to 1,394. Of the 1,394 total deaths, 739 (53%) were long-term care facility residents.

Safer at Home (Yellow Phase): Health Commissioner Dr. Farley confirmed that Philadelphia would proceed to the Yellow Phase of reopening on Friday, June 5. “Based on the metrics that we announced last week, I am cautiously recommending that Philadelphia begin to restart the economy using a phased, slow plan,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Farley. “The Safer at Home plan announced on Friday is the safest way to try to get people back to work but to do it in a way that will allow us to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s imperative that Philadelphians continue to follow the guidance that has reduced the number of new cases to a level we haven’t seen in months: stay at home if you can, wear a mask whenever you’ll be around others, stay six feet away from others, and wash your hands often.”

The City’s Safer at Home plan and executive order outlines how Philadelphia will begin to reopen for business when the current Stay-at-Home Order is lifted on Friday, June 5, 2020. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health continues to advise residents that they are “safer at home,” and should only leave to engage in essential activities.

Lower-risk activities permitted to operate within certain parameters during the Safer-at-Home Order (Yellow Phase) include:

  • Restaurants (including food trucks and walk-up ordering; no dine-in service; no outdoor dining until June 12)
  • Retail businesses (curbside and delivery are strongly encouraged)
  • Child care centers
  • Outdoor youth day camps and recreation
  • Outdoor parks-related amenities
  • Office-based businesses (telework still required whenever feasible)
  • Consumer banking
  • Automobile sales
  • Real estate activities
  • Manufacturing
  • Warehouse operations

Continued Precautions: As they restart, businesses will be required by the Safer-at-Home Order to follow a safety checklist of operations called “Safe Mode” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additional recommendations for different types of businesses and activities are detailed in a separate set of industry-specific guidelines available here.

Outdoor dining will be able to resume for businesses that are currently licensed for such activities beginning June 12, under specific guidance that is still being developed by the City and within their existing footprint. That guidance and an application process to expand opportunities for businesses not currently licensed for outdoor dining will be made available.

City Government Operations: The City will implement a “Safe Return to Work” program as it brings employees back to work in a phased manner, based on a prioritized schedule that aligns with City and State guidelines while minimizing the potential for the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Starting Monday, June 8, public-facing City services will commence in phases.

New Guidance for COVID-19 Testing for Protestors: Because of the large number of people that have participated in protest activities in Philadelphia, the Department of Public Health believes that there may be an increased likelihood that participants may have been exposed to COVID-19. Those who were at or near a protest—even if they wore a mask—should follow these recommendations to combat the spread of the virus:

  • Monitor for symptoms like new-onset fever, cough, or shortness of breath for fourteen days.
  • Try to stay away from other people for fourteen days; if you can’t stay at home, be sure to wear a mask properly and try to stay at least six feet from others.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 seven days after having been in a crowd; those seeking testing do NOT need to identify that they were at a protest but instead should say they were near someone who may have had COVID-19.

Testing Site Map: A new testing site finder at phila.gov/testing helps people find a free COVID-19 test in Philadelphia. Anyone can search for a site by address, click on a map location for specific site information, and filter by day of week and by drive-thru or walk-up.

Each of the testing sites has its own requirements, and that information is included for each location on the map. For example, some sites require referrals, appointments, or certain criteria for patients. No sites require payment, insurance, or proof of citizenship. Residents are strongly encouraged to call first for an appointment or referral; all necessary phone numbers are available on the map. 

The finder is available in six languages, and the map will continue to be updated as new testing sites are opened.

Expanded Testing Standards: The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is recommending COVID-19 coronavirus testing for anyone, regardless of age, who meets this criteria:

  • Known or suspected exposure within the last seven days.
  • A new cough, new shortness of breath, or two of the following symptoms: fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache, new loss of taste or smell.

The expansion of testing recommendations comes as a result of the increasing availability of coronavirus testing at public health and commercial laboratories. Increased testing for the coronavirus is a key part of the City’s and Pennsylvania’s plan to re-open safely.

COVID-19 Resources:

Starting July 1st, PA schools in the yellow and green phase can open for in-person teaching

Teaching can resume in yellow and green schools, starting July 1st, the Education Department said this morning.

These schools MUST have a health and safety plan for re opening that coheres with federal and state guidelines. Each plan must be submitted to the State Education Department.

“Schools will have to identify a pandemic coordinator, ensure those at higher risk of infection are protected, monitor for symptoms, limit large gatherings, issue hygiene guidelines and address cleaning, face masks, social distancing,” according to 6abc.

These requirements do not apply to private schools, however it is recommended they adhere to these suggestions.

In addition, colleges, universities, trade schools, and other post- secondary education institutions may also re open in the yellow and green phase, as long as they follow the social distancing policies and the federal and state standards for testing, and to contain the spread of infection.

This information is from: https://6abc.com/education/pa-schools-can-reopen-in-person-teaching-on-july-1-officials/6229140/

Quick facts on what will happen when Philadelphia “reopens”

The projected date for philly to move to the yellow phase is this Friday, so what will happen if city officials decide it’s safe enough to do so? Here is what we know:

-food trucks, walk-up service restaurants are able to open

-outdoor youth day camps and parks are able to open

-childcare centers that do not need waivers and can open as long as there is frequent sanitization

-childcare staff is required to wear face masks, however children are not (it is still highly recommended they do, especially if they over the age of 2)

-office-based businesses, banks, car sales, manufacturing/warehouse operations and real estate activities can resume

-barber shops and hair salons are permitted to open up the week after, on June 22

-for schools’ reopening policies, please see our article about this: https://6abc.com/education/pa-schools-can-reopen-in-person-teaching-on-july-1-officials/6229140/

This information is from: https://6abc.com/society/heres-whats-reopening-when-philly-moves-to-yellow-phase/6227408/