This year’s mommy retreat happened in Philly. I had a whole 36 hours to myself. I squandered it walking through the city of brotherly love stopping in at Philly’s notable places of African-African American history.
This was a business trip that doubled as time to explore a new city. Philadelphia is rife with history and I only got to experience the tip of the iceberg.
As founder of AfriGen Media & Communications, my finger is always on the pulse of what’s going on in and around the diaspora. When the opportunity came up for my client ReelAfrican, an online portal for African stories in film, TV and entertainment, to participate as a community partner for this year’s Black Star Film Festival, I scooped it up!
ReelAfrican’s screenings at the festival were exciting! I encountered promising directors and films coming out of the African diaspora, including Ghanaian-American emcee, Blitz the Ambassador, who screened his debut short film/extended music video, Diasporadical Trilogy.
Thirty-six hours was more than enough time to indulge in all the things I enjoy doing solo: visiting museums, reading, getting lost in city crowds. Philly is a very walkable city reminding me of a bigger, more cosmo and diverse Pittsburgh. Everyone was outside, lots of art installations and summer events going on everywhere and lots of interesting murals. Mural projects are popping up in a lot of American cities that are being gentrified, I’m noticing. D.C. has something similar where they have muralists painting art on the sides of buildings to add visual interest and a cultural vibe…
Like this beautiful one that depicts the black experience I spotted on my LONG, sweaty, walk back from Paul Robeson’s historic home:
The vegan food wasn’t bad either. It was plentiful in fact…but the vegan Philly cheesesteak from Blackbird was a tasteless mistake. Visit hip city veg and ask for the ranch wrap (I died and went to heaven! I came back twice for it!)
The highlight of my Philly adventure was visiting the the first established church built by Africans in America that’s still in operation today, the AME Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. I touched up on the church’s history and the storied history of Black folk in Philadelphia at the African American Museum in Philadelphia where I was completely blown away with stories of wealth, success, fight, turmoil, terror, and triumph. Founded in 1976, is the museum is the first institution built by a major U.S. city to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage and culture of African-Americans.
A costumed historical actor who was impersonating the founder of the Mother Bethel Church, Bishop Richard Allen, came up and spoke to me about “his experiences”…it was so cool to interact with history like that one-on-one and ask him personal questions about his “life.”
He explained to me that “AME” stood for “African Methodist Episcopal” a term he coined and established to disassociate from the Methodist and Episcopalian denominations and prevent them from imposing restrictions and discrimination during worship for enslaved black people. (Did not know that)
I learned more cultural history here at the African American Museum in Philly
I had planned to visit the Johnson House, one of the last standing homes on the Underground railroad, where Harriet Tubman supposedly visited. But the historic home was closed during the month of August. There is also an African American tour that I wanted which is operated by an awesome, insightful African-American woman, but they only do group tours. So I’ll have to safe those for next time when I Ev, the girls and I visit again.
Overall my mommy retreat in Philly was enlightening, and physical (I booked at least 5 miles on foot in 36 hours!) and I will definitely be back (with the fam)! August is the perfect time to plan a mommy retreat because it’s right before the school year or la rentree begins again; it’s the calm before the storm.
La Rentree is coming, what do you plan to do for yourself before the grind starts again?