Books against Islamophobia: One West Philly mom’s hopeful campaign

Posted on 18 April 2017

In the current political climate and the rise of the alt-right movement, Islamophobia is growing more widespread. A number of public education efforts have surfaced, but there’s one particular effort that aims to nip Islamophobia in the bud while children are still in school. Meet Melanie Bartlett, a parent who heads the education committee at the West Philly Coalition Against Islamophobia (Facebook page). Bartlett is spearheading the “Kids Books That Fight Islamophobia” campaign, which has one simple mission: to get more books featuring Muslim kids into elementary school class libraries. Currently, the campaign is seeking out funding through their GoFundMe page and has already raised over $3,600 of its $5,000 goal.

Bartlett was driven by creating a better world for her daughter, who is being raised Muslim.  Continue Reading

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From West Philly to West Africa: Dance workshop with choreographer Anssumane Sillá this Saturday

Posted on 24 March 2017

Dancer and choreographer Anssumane Sillá was born and raised in Guinea Bissau and moved to Philadelphia in 2008.

A distinguished African-born dancer, drummer and choreographer, Anssumane Sillá, will offer a West African dance workshop this Saturday (March 25) at The Children’s Community School (1212 S. 47th St).

Sillá, a Guinea Bissau native, began performing at the age of 11 and danced professionally with the National Ballet of Guinea Bissau for almost 20 years. He moved to Philadelphia in 2008 and since then has toured the U.S. with the Voices of Africa Drum Ensemble, choreographed for the Kùlú Mèlé African Dance Ensemble, and taught numerous workshops and classes on both traditional West African and contemporary dance styles.  Continue Reading

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Detective Joe Murray is moving on from West Philly; we caught up with him briefly

Posted on 21 March 2017

From Detective Joe Murray’s Twitter feed – @PPDJoeMurray.


Detective Joe Murray, the social media savvy cop who entertained and informed followers with pithy tweets about everything from police policy to top-shelf donuts and Wrestlemania, is moving on after 11 years in West and Southwest Philly.

He announced in a March 7 tweet (natch) that he had been transferred to the PPD’s Homicide Division, a much-deserved promotion. Murray won the Richardson Dilworth Award for Innovation and Government in 2015 and didn’t shy away from calling out the highest levels of the PPD. His story made it to NPR in 2012 after the PPD’s top brass figured all his tweeting was a good idea. They did make him professionalize his Twitter handle, though, so he gave up his trademark moniker “The Fuzz” to the more official “@PPDJoeMurray.”

We recently asked Murray a few questions about his time on the West side.  Continue Reading

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Refugees are welcome here: West Philly neighbors step up for a family in need

Posted on 20 February 2017

Paige Whiting and “Amina” embrace on the porch of Whiting’s home on the 5300 block of Pine St. (Photo by West Philly Local).


Editor’s note: The woman who is the subject of this story asked that we not use her name or show her face in a photo. We honored that request and so we have used the pseudonym “Amina” throughout the story.

Paige Whiting was at Malcolm X. Park a couple of blocks from her home on the 5300 block of Pine Street last fall when she first met Amina, who was at the park with her three children. Their friendship grew to include meetings at one of the many mom groups in the neighborhood. Amina made friends quickly and worked on her English. A refugee from Afghanistan, she and her family had only been in the United States since September.

“I’m so lucky to find these friends,” Amina said, sitting on a couch on the second floor of Paige’s home.  Continue Reading

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Funeral services for UC Green’s Winnie Harris, murdered last week, set for Monday, Feb. 13

Posted on 10 February 2017

Funeral services for beloved West Philly community activist and acting executive director of UC Green, Winnie Harris, who was found shot to death in her Powelton home last Friday, will take place Monday, Feb. 13.

The funeral will be at the Christ Community Church of Philadelphia (4017 Chestnut St.), beginning at 10 a.m. A closed casket Memorial Hour will begin at 9 a.m. Burial will be at the West Laurel Hill Cemetery, 215 Belmont Avenue, in Bala Cynwyd, followed by a reception for family and friends.

A number of community organizations where Harris, a longtime Powelton resident and green space advocate, has been involved with posted their messages grieving her tragic death.  Continue Reading

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Longtime Powelton resident and green space advocate Winnie Harris, 65, found shot to death

Posted on 06 February 2017

The last time we spoke with Winnie Harris was last summer, when she was rallying support for the Holly Street Neighbors Community Garden. The garden, built on a vacant lot, was just down the street from her Holly Street home in West Powelton, where she had lived for 40 years. Gardens, trees and keeping this part of West Philadelphia green was her passion and, as one of the driving forces behind UC Green, her occupation.

Harris, 65, was found dead in her home on the 300 block of North Holly Street late Friday with a single gunshot wound in the abdomen. No arrests have been made, and the police say the motive is unclear. Neighbors on her block noticed Friday that Harris’s second floor window was open. Police found her in a second floor bedroom. Harris lived alone in the house.  Continue Reading

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