Be Careful What You Advocate

Every time Shirley Turpin Parham, professor emeritus at Cheyney University, calls me, I prepare myself to be schooled.

Today was no different.

"I always know the people who aren't from Philadelphia," she told me in a voicemail, "by what they advocate."

Parham was referring my column today, where I made suggestions for a neighborhood mural. What about honoring the community's rich sports history, I wrote? Maybe pay tribute to Dobbins High alumns Hank Gathers or Dawn Staley? Or honor the old Connie Mack Stadium at 21st and Lehigh?

Well, that set off a bad memory in Parham, who grew up blocks  from the stadium. She reminded me that while the stadium was indeed located in the neighborhood, owner Connie Mack vowed he'd never let an African American play for his Philadelphia Athletics. And the Brooklyn Dodgers' Jackie Robinson encountered some of his most vicious racist episodes while playing at the old Shibe Park.

Thanks for the enlightenment, professor. Might I then suggest a tribute to the Philadelphia Stars of the old Negro Leagues, who played at Shibe Park and Memorial Park in West Philadelphia, where a memorial is erected in their honor.

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