Fran Aulston, a West Philadelphia community activist, former President of the Paul Robeson House and founder of Peoplehood Parade passed away on August 9, 2015. The 16th annual Peoplehood Parade, in honor of Fran Aulston, will take place on Saturday, Oct. 24 (read more about the parade here).
The following is a letter from Spiral Q artistic director Tracy Broyles on Fran’s legacy.
“Some argue that #BlackLivesMatter is little more than a hashtag. At Spiral Q, however, we see a vibrant and brave movement of young people of color standing up to injustice, channeling the long-fought struggles of our elders for the full dignity and humanity of Black lives. One of these elders, Paul Robeson, we plan to honor by celebrating the memory of a true West Philadelphia community leader: Fran Aulston.
Fran Aulston passed away on August 9, 2015, and her passing casts a heavy shadow in our hearts and across our city. Fran fought tirelessly to ensure that Paul Robeson’s legacy would endure in the city where he spent the final years of his life. For us, 2015 marks the first year that Spiral Q will step off on its annual Peoplehood Parade this coming Saturday, October 24th, without the blessing of Fran, longtime President of the Paul Robeson House and a founder of Peoplehood, to open the parade. As we continue to lose the profound voices of our generation, we deem it all the more important to honor the visionary leaders upon whose shoulders we stand: Gloria Casarez, Fran Aulston, Grace Lee Boggs, to name but a few who’ve touched our lives in countless ways.
As artists and cultural workers, we heed our imperative and are moved to create in honor of these visionaries. We will pay tribute to them, and to the struggles in our city and across the country that they fought to make our communities more just and equitable places to live for those most directly-impacted by injustice. On Saturday, October 24th, Spiral Q will dedicate our 16th annual Peoplehood Parade to the movement for Black lives. The parade, Soar in Solidarity, will feature a range of artistic offerings, including a special tribute just for Fran: a Paul Robeson puppet who will help us carry forward her vision of educating and engaging community in learning Mr. Robeson’s history and legacy.
In Fran’s memory, we will put the Paul Robeson puppet to work, alongside the staff of the Paul Robeson House, to ensure that our communities’ untold stories of fighting for justice continue to be told for years to come.”
Executive Artistic Director
Spiral Q | Philadelphia, PA