Throughout February, Philly.com’s Instagram account has served as a platform for several black Philadelphia figures to share personal reflections on Black History Month. The series of takeovers continued Thursday with CBS 3 anchor Rahel Solomon.
While having control of our account, Solomon highlighted her upbringing and the responsibility she feels to be a role model as a black woman on television in this diverse city.
Philadelphia is home for Solomon. She grew up in West Philadelphia and Delaware County and attended Archbishop Prendergast. Part of what drives her to succeed on television in Philly: she knows her old teachers are watching.
Solomon grew up in Philadelphia. She wasn’t born here. She started her takeover with a #ThrowbackThursday post, showing her in the arms of her mother when she was a child. Solomon was born in Sudan and both of her parents are Ethiopian.
Her family came to Philadelphia when she was three years old and made it their home. “The way I see the world is absolutely shaped by being a black woman,” Solomon wrote. “But part of that perspective is being the daughter of immigrants.” She added that being an American is a privilege that she doesn’t take lightly after watching her parents work so hard.
Solomon’s career brought her home to Philadelphia, but not after taking her to various places across America. After graduating from Northwestern, Solomon landed her first reporter job in Charleston, West Virginia.
A small television market means some reporters have to act as a “one-man band,” handling reporting and shooting duties.
“In West Virginia, there would be times that I’d be alone reporting,” Solomon recalls, “and would have to knock on a door for an interview and nearly every door on the block would have a Confederate Flag.”
While Solomon admits that she knows the flag might have different meanings for different people, she couldn’t help but feel nervous in its presence.
Along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway sits a memorial that Solomon walks by often. It’s a memorial that she wonders whether many people even notice.
“Erected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in honor of her colored soldiers,” it reads. Solomon is referring to the All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors.
“I have probably walked by this statue hundreds of times,” Solomon wrote, “and never knew this was a monument to black soldiers and war heroes.
Solomon challenged people to not allow monuments like these to fade in to obscurity and to continue learning from them even when February is over.
Before February ends, moviegoers will get the opportunity to hit the theaters to see Marvel’s Black Panther. The movie shows a predominantly black cast and marks a moment in history for many African Americans who grew up believing that black people “didn’t do stuff like that.”
That take on the film’s importance is not lost on Solomon. She shared a picture of her TIME Magazine that she gets mailed to the CBS 3 studios. She enjoys saving the iconic ones and she plans to keep the latest.
On the cover is Chadwick Boseman, the star of Black Panther.
“Even in 2018, it is still so special to see actors and actresses who look like you and story lines that reflect your experience,” Solomon writes. She plans to support the film on opening weekend and urges those who want to continue to see movies like this, to do the same.
Solomon knows how important it is for young people to see themselves in the superheroes they watch. She recalls a similar feeling growing up in Philadelphia and seeing prominent African-American news anchors on her television on a regular basis.
It’s something she thinks about to this day. Now that she is one the people in front the camera, she wants to stand as a “good role model and reflection of an African-American woman.”
Finding out that someone’s son or daughter watches her is the greatest compliment Solomon says she gets today. For some, she might just be the superhero they see themselves in.
More Black History Month Instagram takeovers: