I said in a prior post that someone asked me what it was that made me want to save the graves in the ruins of the Ebenezer AME on Bacton Hill Road in East Whiteland or what old timers in East Whiteland like to call “that old black church”. What first moved me was the grave you see above of Private Joshua Johnson(1846-1916) who was a member of Company K of the 45th of the United States Colored Troops in the Civil War.
Today is Memorial Day so I thought I would take the time to recognize Private Joshua Johnson and the other Civil War Colored Troop Soldier buried in this graveyard OWNED and ABANDONED by the A.M.E. Church. The head of the East Whiteland Historical Society told me recently that there is yet another soldier in this graveyard. (And did you know there is another abandoned graveyard of unknown denomination behind Queen Appliance in Frazer? That is more of an aside, just pointing its existence out.)
Anyway, I still can’t believe that the A.M.E. Church doesn’t give a damn about the Ebenezer A.M.E. but after YEARS of trying to get them to pay attention and discovering all of the OTHER people also ignored in years gone by, I pretty much think they don’t care about the familial history of their members or enough about the history of their churches. That makes me really sad. It also makes me wonder if I am just the wrong race and religion to be asking them about this? And if THAT is true (as has been implied by people I have spoken with) wow what a sorry state of affairs.
The A.M.E. Church is celebrating a remarkable milestone this summer in Philadelphia, their bicentennial. One would THINK or HOPE or WISH they would give a damn about the dead in the decrepit and disgraceful graveyard at Chester County’s Ebenezer A.M.E. on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer, Pa but alas, they don’t. They want to talk about their history and the struggles of their people but if they truly valued the contributions and suffering of their membership the past 200 years they would respect their dead and at least regularly tidy up this graveyard, right?
The following article appeared recently in an out of state newspaper:
Indianapolis Recorder: African-American churches and their vision of faith and freedom
Posted: Friday, May 20, 2016 3:01 am
By ANGELIQUE WALKER-SMITH
“Oh freedom, oh freedom, oh freedom over me. And before I’d be a slave I’ll be buried in my grave. And go home to my Lord and be free.”
This post-Civil War African-American freedom song, often associated with the 20th century Civil Rights Movement in the United States, provides a helpful historical lens for understanding why elections have been important to African-American churches. For these churches, voting and other methods of engaging their public voices have been important in their quest in obtaining freedom from social and legal racism in the U.S., while relying on the biblical promise of a transcendent freedom in the afterlife.
Albert Raboteau at Princeton University points out the following concerning religious formation of African-American churches: “These Christians appropriated Christianity on their own terms despite what they were told or not told by their slave holders and U.S. law. African slaves experienced dissonance between their dignified African identities and the disempowering and undignified messaging of White colonizers and missionaries.”
This kind of social marginalization and oppression of people of African descent, and the acceptance of the biblical narrative of struggle, deliverance, hope and faith, have provoked and encouraged the faith of people of African descent. Such faith has informed their vision and mission to fight for a dignified and equitable quality of life as evidence of earthly freedom.
OK so maybe I am being terribly politically incorrect,but does anyone else see the pure hypocracy of a religious organization that can write things like the above and preach about the above and they can’t care for their dead in a relatively small old graveyard of land they own and probably pay no taxes on??
It’s Memorial Day and at a bare minimum they should respect those soldiers more!
So A.M.E. Church, I double dog dare you. Prove me and others wrong – take care of your dead in this graveyard. Surely if you can foot the bill for a Bicentennial Convention and celebration you can afford to clean up one small and very historic graveyard?
We spend a lot of time writing and describing the violence that takes place in the city of Chester. Janene Shipley knows all about it.
She lives with it every day.She took a bullet in her shoulder in the Saturday night hail of gunfire that snuffed out the life of 14-year-old Zenas Powell.Shipley lives in Highland Gardens, which is often seen as ground zero for Chester's problems with guns and drugs.She wants nothing more than to get out of the city.And she's not the least bit reserved in how she feels about those responsible for the violence.This week she sat down with reporter Rose Quinn to talk about Saturday night's incident and what life is like in Highland Gardens and the city of Chester.It's an eye-opener.You can read it here.
When he was running for his city's top office, Thaddeus Kirkland made it pretty clear that he was not a fan of the way things were being run by the Chester Police Department.
He had harsh words for both then-Mayor John Linder and his top cop, Joe Bail. In Kirkland's view, they were out of touch with the community, leading to a distrust of the department out on the streets.It was one of the things Kirkland vowed to change.It didn't take him long after taking office to do just that. He put Darren Alston back into the spot he once held - before being demoted by Linder - as police commission.He also vowed that the department would be more transparent, and have better interactions with the community.The city took a big step in that direction yesterday when it was announced that the federal Department of Justice would undertake a thorough review of the city department.The review was instigated by several police-involved shootings that had draw questions and criticism from the community. Alston asked the DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services - known as COPS - to perform a comprehensive review of the department. They will specifically concentrate on five areas: police-involved shootings; community policing and trust-building; training and employee development; data collection; and crime analysis.One thing became increasingly clear at yesterday's press conference.This is not going to some some kind of cursory, insider look at the department. These are outsiders who age going to poke around, identify deficiencies, and suggest changes. That's a good thing.You can get all the details here
The Daily Numbers: 1 man taken into custody after a standoff last night with Springfield police and a SWAT team in which he is believed to have fired several shots at officers. 0 injuries reported in the incident.4 hours, how long the man was barricaded in his home on Hillview Drive.600,000 dollars being spent on a review of the Chester Police Department by the federal Department of Justice.5, age of Springfield resident Ryan Natow, who raised $115 for his local volunteer fire department.93 million dollar budget that got the green light by Radnor School Board.3.6 percent tax hike that will be included in the spending plan.735,000 dollar shortfall remains to be whittled down.30-acre reserve known as Taylor Memorial Arboretum in Nether Provide acquired by Widener University.12-8 win for Radnor girls to capture District 1 lacrosse crown.2-1 win for the Penguins to advance to the Stanley Cup finals. They’ll face the Sharks.120-111 win for Golden State to stay alive in their series vs. Oklahoma City Thunder.31 points for Steph Curry. Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anyone remember the Flyers? Yes, they’re still playing hockey. The finals are now set. Just seems like a long time since we saw the Flyers on the ice. I Don’t Get It: Janene Shipley puts an entirely different look at what it’s like to live with violence in Chester. Today’s Upper: Kudos to Ryan Natow. The 5-year-old donated the $115 he received for his birthday to the local township volunteer fire department. Quote Box: “In Chester, we are under attack.”- Janene Shipley, shooting victim and Highland Gardens resident.
I have said many times that it is very easy in this job to present a skewed image of a community in the newspaper. Nowhere is that more evident than in the city of Chester.
Simply put, it has not been an especially good couple of days in the city.We continue to mourn the loss of Zenas Powell, the 14-year-old caught last Saturday night in a hail of bullets that were meant for someone else. There have been no arrests in that case.Meanwhile, the city did record its 10th homicide, and also saw a former star on the Chester High basketball team charged in another murder. Erikk Wright was voted to the All-Delco basketball team, a key member of the undefeated 2012 Clipper team.But there are other stories in the city, ones that offer another image of the city - and its young people.That's why I had a reporter back in Chester yesterday to do a story on some very special honors for a group of students at Chester High and the STEM Academy.Yes, they also appeared on our front page.I very likely will continue to struggle with this idea of how many towns in the county, and the young people who live in them, are portrayed in the paper.I would be lying if I denied that many - if not most - of those stories would be considered negative in nature. That's the nature of the beast, and what I do.But it's not ALL I do, and it's not all this newspaper does every day.By the way, we'll be back in Chester this afternoon for a press conference with city officials, the police department brass and representatives from the Department of Justice. The feds have been invited to Chester to review police procedures in the wake of several police-involved shootings.Yes, that's also part of covering the city.
We like to poke fun at the folks who represent us in Harrisburg in this space. Hey, they don't call Pennsylvania - the place where our governor and Legislature butted heads over a spending plan for nine months - the "Land of Giants" for no reason.
But something very important happened yesterday in the state capital.It's called a fair funding formula for education.Pennsylvania, unfortunately, was one of three states in the nation, that did not utilize one in dispersing funds to local school districts.Not anymore.Yesterday the state House approved a measure that would make the fair funding formula that was suggested by a bi-partisan Basic Education Funding Commission permanent, part of the Pennsylvania School Code.The new formula will take into crucial elements such as enrollment, special education needs of the district, the economic condition of the community and the capacity to raise revenue.The measure now goes to Gov. Tom Wolf, who has indicated he will sign it.If you don't think this is important, you should talk to the people in Upper Darby, William Penn and Interboro School districts. In Upper Darby, they are tightening their belts and not raising taxes, despite looking at a deficit in the neighborhood of $6.5 million.That likely won't be the case in William Penn, where they are staring at a tax hike despite also tapping into their fund balance. And things are even worse in Interboro, where the school board is looking at a decidedly unpopular mix of raising taxes and slashing jobs.We used our editorial page today
to lay out the case for the fair funding formula, and the hope that Gov. Wolf doesn't waste any time in signing it.For Harrisburg, this was indeed a 'giant' step
It's crunch time for the Phillies. After they managed to escape Motown and avoid a sweep by the Tigers with a 8-5 win, we're about to find out if this team - which has clearly surpassed everyone's expectations - is for real.
The Phillies now face a string of 12 games against the Cubs and Washington. They are in the Windy City for three games at Wrigley with the NL Central leaders. They they head home, where the NL East-leading Nats will be waiting for them. After squeezing in four games with Milwaukee, they face three more vs. the Cubs, before hustling down I-95 for three more with the Nats.That's 12 games against what may be the two best teams in baseball in the next two weeks. The Cubs are a lusty 31-14, the best record in baseball. The Nationals are 28-19. Meanwhile the surprise team in baseball this year, the Phils, are hanging in there at 26-21, just two games back of WashingtonSo what do you think would be a good outcome from this crucial span.I'll put the over/under at .500 I'm taking the under.And I'll keep my fingers crossed that they do better.
The Daily Numbers: 15 years probation for an Upper Darby man who entered a guilty plea for stalking a local TV personality. 29 Chester students who received honors as part of the city’s Seeds of Excellence Awards.81, age of man who saw charges against him dropped in connection with a standoff with police.18, age of teen being sought in connection with a shot fired on a crowded Upper Darby playground.11 SEPTA regional rail stations that will be hooking up with Uber this summer to offer discounted rides.40 percent discount for riders using Uber to get to the train stations, where parking is often at a premium.9 licenses that got the green light from the Pa. LCB for gas stations to be able to sell beer.2 recent police-involved shootings that have sparked a federal review of operations in the Chester Police Department.5,000 calls for help received each month by Chester police, about 150 a day.1 employee shot during a robbery of a restaurant in Claymont last night.15,000 dollars or more being offered to Penn State students to go to a satellite campus as opposed to main campus in State College. 2 people facing charges now in the OD death of a woman doctor after a night of partying in New York City.0.10 blood alcohol level in a DUI offense that will now mean mandatory use of an ignition interlock device in Pa. 78,000 attempts to drive drunk stopped by the devices, according to MADD.8-5 win for the Phils to avoid a sweep in Detroit.12 games in the next 2 weeks against the Cubs and Nats. 31 of July, that’s date of 1st Eagles training camp session that will be open to public.2-2 draw for the Union against Orlando.6 game unbeaten streak for the team that plays in Chester. Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.We’re about to find out if this Phillies team is for real. They have 12 games against the 2 best teams in baseball, the Cubs and Nats, in the next 2 weeks. I think .500 ball over that span would be a huge step up for this offensively challenged team. I Don’t Get It: A guy enters a plea for stalking, gets 15 years probation, and tells the court he has no intention of stopping the actions he just pleaded guilty to in the first place. Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those kids who received awards in Chester yesterday. Yes, there are lots of good stories in the city. Quote Box: “I’m not going to give it up. I want to be with her. I’m the only person who can protect her.”- Chris Nilan, in court yesterday to plead to stalking charges involving a local TV news personality.
Brace yourself for Beer Wars. Count me in.Yesterday Gov. Tom Wolf weighed in on one of the state's longest lasting 'brew'-hahas. That would be the archaic way Pennsylvania handles the sale of alcohol.
That, of course, falls under the purview of the state Liquor Control Board, which has set up a maze of different hoops people in this state have to jump through to buy booze.Yesterday Wolf supported the notion of allowing gas stations to sell six-packs of beer.Can you say Wawa?The Delco-based convenience store chain is in the business of setting up an area in one store - out on Naamans Creek Road in Concord - for beer sales.But state law currently bans the sale of alcohol at any location "where the sale of liquid fuels or oil is conducted."Sheetz, the Wawa of the convenience store world in the middle part of the state, is challenging that ruling in a location concerning a store in Shippensburg.They're not the only interested parties. The state Malt Beverage Distributors Association, which represents private beer distributors, opposes the measure. One court backed the PLCB's ban on sales at gas stations, but the matter now sits with the state Supreme Court. The PLCB is currently in the process of weighing nine other applications.Wolf is urging them to "free the six-pack"Imagine that, being able to duck into your local convenience store on the way home to grab a cold six-pack.Ask anyone who lives in another state about our laws.They think we're living in the Dark Ages.I'm not sure they're wrong.In another lifetime, I lived for a few years in Colorado. In the supermarkets there, you had several aisles of the store devoted to anything you might want - beer, wine, or liquor. And you put it in your cart and pay for it with all the rest of your groceries.Every 7-Eleven had a cold case where you could grab a six-pack. In West Virginia, where my son lives, every Sheetz store has the same thing. But here in Pennsylvania? Let's review.Beer? You want a six-pack. You have to go to your local deli or tavern and likely pay through the nose. Or a supermarket that has beer sales. But you can't pay for it along with the rest of your groceries. That's a separate part of the store.So much for convenience.You want a case, instead of a six-pack? That's another trip, this time to the beer distributor. He can't sell you a six-pack by the way, but he can now offer a 12-pack. A bottle of wine for dinner? That means a third trip, to your friendly state store. But you can't buy beer there.I have long been a proponent of Pennsylvania getting out of the booze business.I understand it means revenue and jobs.I also think the state has no business sticking its nose into what is really private enterprise.But I don't expect it to change anytime soon, despite seemingly constant attempts to change the system in Harrisburg.My offers still stands. The day they are finally going to blow up this system and turn the whole thing over to private enterprise - can you say Total Wine? - I'm available to push the plunger.
The Upper Darby School Board was good to its word. Last week they rolled out a $189 million dollar budget that did something school board members are always talking about - but very rarely ever actually do.
That would be holding the line on taxes.After several years of property tax hikes, Upper Darby this year decided to bite the bullet and not raise taxes.Tuesday night the school board gave preliminary approval to the plan.You can get all the details here.It's not as if the district is flush with money. In fact, they are staring at a $6.5 million deficit.But instead of simply reaching into home owners' wallets, the school board instead will tap into their fund balance, and keep their fingers crossed that an expected uptick in revenue holds up.Officials made clear that this is a "one-time opportunity" to provide relief to local taxpayers.We hear that. Aside from crime, property taxes without question generate the most complaints we hear from residents.This is where the Legislature should step in and take action.Unfortunately, they don't exactly see eye-to-eye with Gov. Tom Wolf when it comes to spending, in particular the Democratic governor's plan for a huge increase in education spending, and the hefty tax hike to pay for it.We don't expect that is going to change anytime soon. The two sides are about to start up the budget negotiations again. As usual, they face a July 1 deadline to have a spending plan in place. And as usual, most people expect them to blow right by that deadline. Last year the standoff dragged on for nine months.There is something the Legislature can do in the meantime.They can make permanent the fair funding formula suggested by a Basic Education Funding Commission.Today, on our op-ed page, we hear two voices in favor of just such a move.Larry Feinberg
is a longtime member of the Haverford School Board. He's also the founder and co-chairman of the Keystone State Education Coalition.He knows his stuff. And he knows the state - one of only three in the nation that does not have a statewide funding formula - has been lax in this area for far too long.Also joining in the calls for making the measure permanent is newly minted state Sen. Tom Killion,
R-9.It's time. Pennsylvania has operated in the dark ages in terms of education funding long enough.Just ask the folks in William Penn and Interboro. They also are struggling with red ink there, but it's likely they instead will again be enacting tax hikes, job cuts, or both.The residents of Upper Darby dodged a bullet. But that light at the end of the tunnel is actually a train.It's up to the Legislature to derail this annual funding debacle.
In Chester, the question remains the same: Who fired the shots that killed 14-year-old Zenas Powell. It's the question that has possessed police - and much of the city - since gunfire rang out Saturday night, hitting Powell, his 16-year-old cousin Quamar, and another woman.
Police believe they were innocent bystanders, in the wrong place at the wrong time.The hunt for suspects goes on.In the meantime, the community is rallying around the Powell family. That includes his "school family."Zenas attended Chester Community Charter School.The school's founder, Vahan Gureghian, and his wife, Danielle, are picking up the tab for Zenas' funeral expenses. They also have matched the $5,000 reward being offered by the city for information in the case.It's fair to say that this newspaper has not always seen eye to eye with Vahan Gureghian. We have often questioned operations at Chester Community Charter, the largest charter school in the state, and its effect on the Chester Upland School District. Roughly half of the kids in Chester now attend Chester Community Charter. We have gone to court in an effort to get Gureghian to open his books about the school's operation. Gureghian has steadfastly argued that as a private entity he is not required to do so.As I said, we've had our disagreements before. Not now.A school has a special relationship with its students. Its clear from the reaction that Powell's tragic loss has deeply affected those at the school. That includes Gureghian.What he is doing is a good thing.What is happening elsewhere in Chester is not.The Powell case was barely 48 hours old when Chester recorded its next homicide. Police say a man was gunned down Monday night in the 11 block of Carla Lane in the Ruth L. Bennett Homes.There have been no arrests in that case either.It marks the 11th homicide this year in Chester.The city's sad saga continues.
The Daily Numbers: 85, expected high today, with lots of sun. Ahhhhhh! 0 tax hike in the budget given preliminary OK in Upper Darby last night.189 million dollar spending plan.6.5 million dollar deficit.2 million dollars being tapped from district’s fund balance.3,521, tax bill for average Upper Darby home assessed at $100,000.94 million dollar budget in William Penn. They likely are looking at a tax hike.4.5 million dollar shortfall.2.5 million being used from their fund balance.541,660 shortfall in the Radnor School District budget6,682 in casino winnings police say a man stole from a woman in Secane after he followed her home. He was arrested and she got the money back.11th homicide recorded in Chester Monday night.2 people now facing charges on May 2.22, age of Erikk Wright, a former All-Delco hoops player at Chester High, who has been charged in the fatal shooting.1 person struck and killed by a train on the Market-Frankford Line at the 13th Street station.6 packs of beer at gas stations. That’s what Gov. Tom Wolf came out in favor of yesterday.3-1 loss for Phils to Tigers.2 straight losses and 4 of last 5 for the Phils.10 strikeouts for Tigers’ pitcher Justin Verlander in 8 scoreless innings.8 of 9 won by Tigers after losing 11 of 12 earlier this season. Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Phillies continue to be betrayed by their impotent bats. I Don’t Get It: Has anyone ever suffered a more precipitous fall than Bill Cosby. This was Cliff Huxtable. I don’t get it. Today’s Upper: Kudos to Upper Darby School Board. Good to their word, they held the line on taxes. At least for now. Quote Box: “I don’t want to raise taxes ... but I’m seriously concerned about providing a thorough and efficient system of education and advocating to our state when we’re about to say we have enough.”- Upper Darby School Board Member Heather Boyd.
As usual, it is the photo that grabs you by the throat. And twists that knot in your stomach.
The photo that graces today's front page
is of a beaming Zenas Powell. It captures the 14-year-old decked out in his finest last Friday night as he headed off to his eighth-grade formal. He's wearing a dapper blue shirt, dark vest and smart bow tie, along with a 1,000-watt smile.Just 24 hours later, the teen was dead, the latest victim of the senseless gun violence that continues to grip Chester in its deadly tentacles.While his family searches for answers, the police are searching for suspects.On our editorial page today,
we again take up the issue of violence in Chester, as well as any number of other Delaware County towns. I don't expect everyone to agree with the opinion stated there.It seems pretty simple. There are too many guns on our streets, in the hands of too many people who should not have them. The answer to gun violence is not going to be found in Harrisburg, nor in Washington, D.C.It's going to be found on the streets of Chester, Upper Darby, Darby Borough and every other town that battles this problem. It's almost beyond belief that the smiling countenance of Zenas Powell the jumps off that front page today could be so easily and quickly snuffed out.Maybe the first step is to simply talk about it.Nothing else seems to be working.Why do I say that. Police in Chester are investigating another fatal shooting in Chester that took place Monday night. That's right, another life lost just about 48 hours after Powell was gunned down.Maybe someone smarter than me has a solution for this.I know this. I'm getting tired of seeing great young faces like that of Zenas Powell snuffed out in an instant.
That sigh of relief you hear in Upper Darby tonight likely will be coming from the area of the high school. The school board is expected to vote tonight on the budget plan they first unveiled last week.
Despite a hefty deficit, the board is vowing to hold the line on taxes. Instead of reaching into residents' wallets with still another increase in local property taxes, the board instead will tap their fund balance to the tune of $6.5 million. That along with a hoped-for increase in revenue will allow the board to keep the current tax rate.Officials make it clear this is a "one-time only" deal. Without help from Harrisburg, property owners likely will be looking at an increase in the future. But at least for this year, they are avoiding a tax hike.The meeting starts at 6:30. After several committee meetings, the board is expected to hear public comments on the budget and then offer their preliminary vote. It will not become final until a board vote in June.You can get all the details here
The more you see of Pete Mackanin, the more you have to like him. Nobody expected the Phillies to be where they are, with a 25-20 record, just two games behind the first-place Washington Nationals in the NL East.
Most preseason predictions pegged the Phils to be one of the worst teams in baseball.The best person in Mackanin's lineup has been Odubel Herrera, who has taken command of the leadoff position and is a constant on-base threat. Last night he went 3-for-4 to raise his lusty batting average to .335.But he also did something else in what would become a disappointing 5-4 loss in the series opener with the Tigers in Detroit.In the seventh inning, Herrera, who has been battling some bumps and bruises, failed to run out a grounder.It did not escape Mackanin's notice.He promptly pulled his best player."He knows he should've run," the skipper said after the game.Message delivered.Herrera likely will be back in the lineup tonight.But for a young team just starting to tape into the potential of what they might be, Mackanin's actions stand out.There is a right way and a wrong way to go about things. Not running out a ground ball is the wrong way.And that will not stand with Mackanin.That has not always been the case with the Phils.It's nice to see for a change.
The Daily Numbers: 10,000 dollar reward now being offered in fatal shooting of Chester teen. 5,000 dollars put up by Vahan Gureghian, founder of Chester Community Charter School, where 14-year-old victim Zenas Powell attended classes.1 person shot and killed on streets of Chester Monday night.26, age of man charged in May 1 homicide in Chester.10 homicides so far this year in Chester.17 homicides so far this year in the county.6.5 million dollar deficit in the Upper Darby School District budget.0 tax hike that will be voted on tonight.51, age of Cabrini College professor who was struck and killed while attempting to cross Lancaster Avenue in Wayne Saturday night.19, age of teen who entered a guilty plea in a wild police chase that left 1 person injured in Glenolden.3 people who entered guilty pleas for intimidating a witness in a Delco murder case.63, age of woman in North Wales who faces a murder charge in the fatal shooting of her ex-husband.2 and 4, age of kids left unattended in a Chester County home while their mother and her fiance went shopping at the local Wal-Mart.5-4 loss for the Phils to the Tigers in the series opener in Detroit last night.2 home runs for Miguel Cabrera.4 solo homers total for the Tigers.2 games back of the Nats now for the Phils.3 hits for Odubel Herrera, who was still benched by skipper Pete Mackanin for not running out a ground out. Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Odubel Herrera has been the best player in the Phils’ lineup. That’s why it was so impressive that Mackanin benched him for not running out that ground ball. That sends a clear message to a young team. I Don’t Get It: About 48 hours after Zenas Powell was gunned down, Chester police are reporting another fatal shooting in the city. Today’s Upper: Kudos to Chester Community Charter School and founder Vahan Gureghian. They are paying for Powell’s funeral as well as matching the $5,000 reward in the case. Powell attended Chester Community Charter. Quote Box: “I can’t believe something like this could happen.”- Twitter post reacting to shooting death of Zenas Powell.