Tribune Staff Report
Carrie Atkins Meeks was an entrepreneur and long-time member of Deliverance Evangelistic Church.
She died on Tuesday, Feb. 18, after an extended illness. She was 87.
Meeks was born Aug. 11, 1926, to Pauline Williams Atkins and William Atkins Sr.
She was five when her mother died, and her family moved to the Fairmount home of Ida Williams, her grandmother. While living there, she contracted tuberculosis from a roomer in the house for whom she ran errands. She then endured many weeks living in a sanatorium far from home. When she rallied back to health, she completed her education at Lydia Darrah Elementary School and the Stoddart-Fleisher Junior High School. She entered the William Penn High School for Girls (now called the Franklin Center), and though she loved her studies and developed a passion for sewing and the arts, she dropped out as a sophomore to begin working to help support her family.
She married Tomie Lee Meeks, who worked at the National Biscuit Company before and after decorated service in the U.S. Navy in World War II.
Carrie Meeks’ personal strength and unwavering love always defined her, say those closest to her. Many recall that as a young mother in 1951, she rescued one of her children from a burning house in Fairmont by scaling a ladder and then scrambling farther up the side of the building to reach a third-story window. The family lost all its possessions to the fire, but escaped unharmed.
Meeks worked at Dee’s Record Shop and the W. T. Grant department store and later graduated from the Apex Beauty School in South Philadelphia.
Meeks opened an independent cosmetology business in her home and supplemented her income by selling dinners on weekends. She made a name for herself in her kitchen. Her family said she will be remembered for a killer chocolate cake and a favorite fruitcake that she marinated half the year in Crème de Cacao.
Throughout her life, Meeks often relied on faith. She was a member of Deliverance Evangelistic Church for more than 30 years. She served as one of the many founding donors of its Hope Plaza complex in North Philadelphia, though in recent years her condition kept her on the congregation’s sick-and-shut-in list. Visits from members of the Deliverance outreach team kept her in communion, and her spirits often were buoyed by the sermons of the Rev. T. D. Jakes and others she viewed on the television in her room at the nursing home.
When able, Meeks enjoyed occasional outings with her family to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Flower Show and other events.
“Mrs. Meeks will be remembered by many for her will to enjoy the fruits of this life and cheerfully give the gift of her counsel to others despite the ailments that robbed her of physical freedom for more than 14 years,” her family said.
Her husband and her eldest daughter Paula Meeks preceded her in death.
She is survived by her sister Pauline Atkins Denson; daughter Leslie Yvonne Meeks; son Gregory Lee Meeks; daughter-in-law Jennifer Boston Meeks; grandchildren Eric Lorenzo Morton, Nia Ngina Meeks, Christopher Kyle Morton, Leah Denise Morton, Cary Todd Morton, Nathan Gregory Meeks and Simone Marie Meeks; nephews Edward Hargrave and Stanley Hargrave and other relatives and friends.
A memorial service will take place March 15, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Art Sanctuary, 628 S. 16th St.
In lieu of flowers, family requests that donations be made to the Salvation Army or the American Red Cross in support of fire victims.
Harry R. Seay, a criminal defense attorney, died Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 at home. He was 79.
He was born Feb. 17, 1935.
Seay was a sports enthusiast and was a “Speedboy” on West Philadelphia High School’s basketball team in the ’50s, when there was a great rivalry with Wilt Chamberlain and the Overbrook High School Panthers. Seay played tennis at the Chamounix courts with Johnny Sample and other friends and later became an avid golfer. His devotion to sports and interest in professional sports continued throughout his lifetime
A graduate of Lincoln University, Seay studied law at Howard University School of Law and Temple University School of Law and wrote for the Pennsylvania Bar under the sponsorship of the late Judge Charles Klein. He practiced law for more than 40 years.
Seay was a lifetime member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Guardsmen, Inc. and a former member of the Philadelphia Commissioners, both men’s social and civic organizations. He read the New York Times and every Philadelphia newspaper daily and completed all of the crossword puzzles.
He is survived by his wife Deborah (“Binky”), nee Redd; children Andre (Cathy), Angelique Seay Howell (Melvin), Stephanie D. Seay and Geoffrey (Therese) and grandchildren Alexandra, Harry, Gabrielle, Ryan, Briana, Kenneth and Sean.
A memorial service will be held April 30 at 11 a.m. at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, 6361 Lancaster Ave.
The Multicultural Affairs Congress of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau has created a new video aimed at increasing the city’s multicultural meetings and conventions.
The video titled “Here for the Making: PHL & The African American Experience” highlights the city’s African-American landmarks, attractions and organizations.
The attractions and organizations highlighted in the video are the heart of Philadelphia’s multicultural hospitality and tourism industry, which generated more than $1.5 billion over the last 26 years. The video will be used by PHLCVB’s sales team as a marketing tool for attracting more multicultural conventions, conferences, meetings and trade shows and by the featured attractions themselves in their marketing efforts.
“In a city that boasts significant historical and cultural African-American landmarks, the role of the Multicultural Affairs Congress is to increase Philadelphia’s share of the multicultural meeting market,” MAC Executive Director Nicole Johnson Reece said in a release.
“With “Here for the Making,” we are able to further assist our sales team as they bring even more multicultural business to the city. When the question of ‘Why Philadelphia?’ arises, we can offer a visual experience that shows meeting planners and convention attendees better than we can tell them.”
With original poetry by Philadelphia spoken word artist Nina “Lyrispect” Ball serving as the video’s narrative, “Here for the Making” boasts such national landmarks as President’s House, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, and Mother Bethel AME Church, along with staples as Gamble and Huff’s Philadelphia International Records, Ms. Tootsie’s Restaurant Bar Lounge and the annual Odunde Festival. By illustrating Philadelphia’s ample cultural offerings, officials said the video will aid in attracting a diverse audience to the city.
The new video is an extension of the PHLCVB’s recently launched “PHL Here for the Making” campaign, a collaborative effort of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) and Select Greater Philadelphia to position Philadelphia as a city of makers and the nation’s original start-up city.
Produced by advertising and interactive firm Mighty Engine, with support from Visit Philadelphia, “Here for the Making: PHL & The African American Experience” can be viewed on MAC’s Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaiRz_JHzzA.
Charlena L. Hamilton was a caregiver to many children in her community.
Hamilton died on Friday Feb. 14, 2014. She was 82.
She was born on March 27, 1931.
Her family said whenever a mother needed help with their children in order to work, she was the first to be asked due to the love she gave.
She worked many years with the Home and School Association, helping in the classrooms of the public school system. Hamilton would also supervise children on field trips and assist them to and from school. She also worked with her block committee and was the hair stylist to many young girls from the neighborhood.
Hamilton was a member of Mt. Pisgah A.M.E. for 50 years.
Services were held on Feb. 28 at Mt. Pisgah A.M.E. Church, 428 N. 41st St. Burial was in Fernwood Cemetery, Fernwood.
Ivan M. Kimble Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
In 1994 when Guthrie Ramsey completed his dissertation on legendary jazz pianist Bud Powell, he didn’t turn the thesis into a book manuscript right away. He waited 20 years.
Ramsey, a music professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has been on the lecture circuit for a few months now talking about his new book, “The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History and the Challenge of Bebop.”
He says he waited two decades to write it because he didn’t want to be pegged as solely a jazz scholar.
“I wanted to demonstrate my range, before burrowing in on this,” Ramsey said. “I did not believe I had the patience to write a biography of Bud Powell. This book is more a critical study of 20th century creative Black manhood, using Bud Powell as its focus.”
The first chapter of Ramsey’s book introduces readers to Earl Rudolph “Bud” Powell, born in Harlem in 1924, by telling the story of his sudden, tragic death. He died at age 41 from complications of tuberculosis and alcoholism.
Ramsey believes that the story of Powell’s life has been treated more sensationally than insightfully.
“There are a lot of things that we know about Bud Powell from the historical record,” Ramsey said. “I am using my training as a musicologist, a pianist, a cultural critic and [my experiences] as an African-American man to reinterpret what we think we know about Bud Powell.”
Ramsey places the facts of Powell’s career and his music within a historical, cultural and social frame to examine the contradictions of his life, how he moved from the recording studio and the stage as one of the greatest pianists of his era, to the psych ward, jail and an untimely death.
The Penn professor unpacks the lore and myth of Powell’s genius describing his ability to rise above personal demons and societal pressures that African-American men faced in the mid 20th century.
Ramsey says he believes that the number of well-known African-American musicians and artists of Powell’s era who were institutionalized points to a flawed mental health care system and skewed societal views of Black men.
He cites famed jazz musicians Thelonius Monk, Charlie Mingus and Buddy Bolden, as well as 20th century painters William H. Johnson and Jacob Lawrence as African-American men who spent time in mental hospitals.
“What was so amazing to me was that, if Powell wasn’t in a mental institution, he was making very powerful music,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey, who is also the author of “Race Music: Black Cultures From Bebop to Hip Hop,” plays piano and composes and arranges contemporary jazz, rhythm and blues and other genres of music with his ensemble, Dr. Guy’s Musiqology.
As a young pianist playing on the South Side of Chicago, he first became interested in Bud Powell when other jazz musicians told him to listen to Powell’s records because Powell was “the man.”
Ramsey explores this idea of jazz manhood in “The Amazing Bud Powell.”
He said, “When we say someone is ‘the man,’ we talk about being a complete master of their genre.”
Ramsey is currently finishing a documentary on Powell called “Amazing: The Test and Trials of a Modernist.” It will be released on social media. More information is at www.Musiqology.com.