In the summer of 1964, a thin, bespectacled Yale University student named Joel Katz plunged himself, with notebook and camera in hand, into the violence of the civil rights movement in Mississippi.
It was “Freedom Summer,” and armies of college students and civil rights workers — Katz included — descended into the Jim Crow South. “The fact that I was down there hanging out with African Americans and civil rights workers, being a Northern agitator, being Jewish was icing on the cake,” laughed Katz in reflection of his seven-week stay. “I had plenty going for me.”
Katz, then a 21-year-old design student, took the long bus ride from his home in Hartford, Conn., to Jackson, Miss., to spend the summer photographing and writing about the people of Mississippi. It was a raw and uncertain time when three young civil rights workers were murdered in Philadelphia, Miss.; when the young preacher Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph David Abernathy stumped through Jackson, the state capital, risking their lives with every speech. Katz, like many of his fellow college students who had descended on the area, drew the support of residents — and ire of authority.
“I was harassed by the Jackson police,” Katz said. “We would run into people on the street that would ask if I wanted to die, because they would be happy to kill me. When I was living at the Freedom House in Vicksburg, we kept a 24-hour watch on the street surrounding the area.”
The black-and-white photographs taken by Katz at what turned out to be the height of the civil rights movement are riveting and make up a powerful collection that earned him the Strong Prize for American Literature Prize while at Yale. The Philadelphia-based designer has not been back to Mississippi since that fateful time, but has fond memories of the people he sought to serve five decades ago.
“I will never forget the way the Black people who lived there responded to me,” Katz said. “In other words, we could drive along the highway and see people working in the fields, and we would wave and they would wave back. It was not a transaction that your average white Mississippian would be involved in. I spent nights in homes on farms. There was such an outpouring of generosity, and these people knew that we would go back to school at the end of summer, and they were going to stay there, and if there was any retribution by the white community, it was going to fall on them, not us. So, I regard the people that live there as extremely brave, and certainly at least as brave as we were for coming down because we were going back home.”
The Galleries at Moore will host the “Joel Katz: And I Said No Lord” exhibition of black-and-white photographs through March 15. Katz, an information designer, photographer, author and teacher, will attend an event reception this evening at 5:30 p.m. The Galleries at Moore, located 1916 Race St., are free and open to the public. For more information call (215) 965-4027 or visit www.thegalleriesatmoore.org.
Once a standard fixture at the side of homes, the long-vanished rain barrel is making a comeback.
Rain barrels are storage containers that collect rain or storm water from downspouts. Rain barrels are easy to install, maintain and use, and provide an effective way to conserve water. Residents can enjoy the benefits of passive water conservation — the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA) and The Philadelphia Water Department are giving away rain barrels to people located within the watersheds of Philadelphia.
The storage of rain water serves dual purposes. First, the water can be used for purposes such as gardening, washing down patio furniture, lawn watering, etc., that otherwise tap water would have to be used for. This ends up allowing the owner to use the collected water for these uses instead of paying for tap water. And, the home garden and lawn will blossom with a consistent supply of free “soft” water that contains no chlorine, lime or calcium. Second, the rain barrels serve an environmental purpose. By storing the rain water, there is a decreased impact of storm water runoff to streams, which helps to protect the environment and minimizes sewer back ups.
Rain barrels usually consist of a plastic storage container with lid, a system that diverts water into the barrel, an overflow that diverts water away from the house, a screen to keep out debris, and a water spigot to which a hose can attach. The rain barrel is connected into the downspout system, in order to capture and store some of the rain water.
“Each barrel is made from nearly 100 percent recycled materials,” reads the ECA website. “Our barrels are then constructed by hand by low-income Philadelphians who are pursuing careers in the green jobs economy. The barrel itself is a recycled reused 55-gallon, food-grade barrel. Each barrel is certified to have only contained food products and have been professionally steam-cleaned to ensure maximum cleanliness. Barrels are also purchased locally to reinvest in our community and cut down on their carbon footprint.”
Remember that water from barrels is untreated rain water and should not be used for drinking, cooking or any other ingested uses.
In order to receive a rain barrel, interested persons must attend a rain barrel workshop to be educated on the installation process and use of the rain barrel. The barrels are limited to one-per-household. Rain barrel workshops are held in locations around the city. For more information, call (215) 609-1083 or visit www.phillywatersheds.org/whats_in_it_for_you/residents/rainbarrel.
The fourth annual Philadelphia Tribune’s Christopher J. Perry/Carter G. Woodson Black History Awards Luncheon served as both a notable learning experience and networking opportunity for the 400 guests on Thursday at the venerable Union League.
“While we are not here to ignore the achievements of others, we think it is important to acknowledge the many contributions African Americans have made,” said Robert W. Bogle, President/CEO of The Philadelphia Tribune.
Ahmeenah Young served as Mistress of Ceremonies and immediately noted the timing of the event, which was postponed from February because of snow. Michael A. Rashid, President/CEO, AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies also spoke during the informative program covering key points in Philadelphia’s African-American history.
The Philadelphia Tribune was established in 1884 by Christopher J. Perry (1854-1920), a pioneering Black businessman who championed racial equality. Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson (1875–1950) launched Negro History Week in 1926 as an initiative to bring national attention to the contributions of Black people throughout American history.
Since 1976, the week has expanded to Black History Month and the Tribune is recognized as the oldest continuously published African-American newspaper.
History Makers Awards were bestowed upon Edward S. Cooper, M.D.; Odunde Founder Lois Fernandez and state lawmaker and radio personality Rep. Louise Williams Bishop.
“Odunde would not be here if it wasn’t for the support of the entire community. We would not be on South Street — and you all know we had to struggle to be on South Street; we had to take a stand that this is our neighborhood and that’s why we built Osun Villiage,” Fernadez said.
In her distinctive mellifluous voice, Williams said, “Everybody in Philadelphia knows that the wrong thing to do is put a microphone in the hands of woman who has picked her way from the Georgia cotton patch all the way to Capitol Hill — where I served on the board and as chair of children and youth. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than be be recognized for some of the work that I do, without wanting to be recognized — but when it has happened it is a great pleasure.”
The Rev. Kevin Johnson, pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church, introduced the keynote speaker, the Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III of Abyssinian Baptist Church who told the audience Black History Month is to “remind the whole nation of who we actually are … because the study of Africa is almost inexhaustible.”
The African Diasporia and it’s influence in medicine, history, geography, anthropology and history was referenced by every speaker. “We all leave here smarter than when we came,” Young said.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art will be the only East Coast venue for the unprecedented exhibition, “Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392–1910.” More than 150 works, among them national treasures that have never before left Korea, reveal an era that profoundly shaped the culture of Korea in ways that continue to resonate today.
The exhibition is organized around themes that illuminate the artistic accomplishments and dynamics of Korean cultural life under the world’s longest-ruling Confucian dynasty, which saw the succession of 27 monarchs over 518 years. The period is one of deep fascination because it continues to influence modern manners, norms and societal attitudes in a country that has today emerged as one of the world’s most vibrant economies.
The exhibition also sheds light on the external influences that exerted a profound effect on Korea’s culture. These include the adoption of the Chinese writing system in the second century BCE, the spread of Buddhism and the introduction of Confucian values that would impose strict moral codes and standards. As the founding philosophy of the Joseon dynasty, Confucianism provides a unifying perspective for the artistic styles that evolved over time. The exhibition is organized by the National Museum of Korea, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
“This ambitious exhibition enables us to bring together an exceptional range of art produced over a period of 500 years that will offer our audiences many rare surprises,” said Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “We are pleased to have organized this exhibition in partnership with the National Museum of Korea, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, expanding on an initiative that began with an earlier survey of American art presented in Korea. The exhibition will be an eye-opener for many Americans and an opportunity for the vibrant Korean and Korean-American communities in Philadelphia and beyond to discover fresh connections with their cultural heritage.”
The exhibition comprises works drawn primarily from the collection of the National Museum of Korea, supplemented by loans from public and private collections in Korea and the United States. “In our ongoing quest to promote world history and culture, we are very pleased to be able to share the treasures of our heritage with American audiences, in the same way that the Korean public gained a better understanding of the art of the United States through the exhibition ‘Art Across America,’” said Kim Youngna, director-general, National Museum of Korea. “We are delighted to take part in this important cultural collaboration between Korea and the United States.”
“Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1910,” is on view March 2–May 26 in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Dorrance Galleries. For general information, call 215-763-8100 or visit philamuseum.org.
How has one of America’s oldest agricultural crafts evolved from a quaint enterprise with “sugar parties” and the delicacy “sugar on snow” to a modern industry? In “The Sugar Season: A Year in the Life of Maple Syrup, and One Family’s Quest for the Sweetest Harvest” (Da Capo Press, Print: $24.99; Kindle: $13.99), Douglas Whynott follows a maple syrup entrepreneur through one tumultuous season, taking readers deep into the sugarbush, where sunlight and sap are intimately related.
Along the way,Whynott reveals the inner workings of the multimillion dollar maple sugar industry. Make no mistake, it’s big business — complete with a Maple Hall of Fame, a black market, a major syrup heist monitored by Homeland Security, a Canadian organization called ‘The Federation’ and a global strategic reserve that’s comparable to OPEC (fitting, since a barrel of maple syrup is worth more than a barrel of oil).
Whynott is the critically acclaimed author of four nonfiction books, and has taught writing and literature at the University of Massachusetts, Mount Holyoke College and Columbia University. He is currently an associate professor of writing in the Writing, Literature and Publishing Program at Emerson College, where he served as director of the MFA program from 2002-2009. He received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach at the University of the Andes, Bogota, Colombia in the spring of 2013.
“I have been writing nonfiction for 25 years or so,” explained Whynott, an 11th-generation Cape Codder. “I got an undergraduate degree in journalism at University of Massachusetts and a graduate degree in creative writing, and my goal was to combine the techniques of fiction writing with the techniques of journalism, recording and writing nonfiction — and that’s what I’ve done. When I was a graduate student in the MFA program studying fiction there were no nonfiction programs. But, when I was in graduate school, I decided that someday, if I could, I would teach in an MFA program and develop a non-fiction track. And that’s what I did.”
In addition to his writing and teaching,Whynott has been at different times a concert piano tuner, a dolphin trainer, a commercial fisherman and a boogie-woogie pianist.