by Jim Brown
The Mantua community looked vibrant as the community school, Morton McMichael, showcased the 2nd Annual “Knowing Your Neighborhood Heroes” Wall of Fame on Friday, April 12th in the auditorium for the students at McMichael Elementary School in West Philadelphia.
It’s a great feeling when you can do meaningful things in the community that you grew up in, Mantua, and one day be recognized for the body of work that you and other special individuals have done to serve Mantua, the city of Philadelphia, the state of Pennsylvania and throughout the United States.
McMichael’s Principal Brian Wallace hosted this special assembly ceremony for the students of McMichael who entertained honorees, guests, and their student body by presenting a poem to the honored guest of the day. Principal Wallace stated to the audience the importance of what Jim Brown had created for his school and what the students can have as an integral part of their school’s Black History curriculum every February. It stunned the audience of about 300 students and guests.
This was a day when the host and creator James J. Brown (aka Jim Brown) of the history-making Jenkins-Brown Mantua Heroes Program 2019 Awards Ceremony was honored along with eleven incredibly talented people from Mantua. There was a Renaming of the Auditorium for retired longtime community leader of 57 years, Rev. Dr. Andy Jenkins and his late wife Mrs. Patricia Jenkins. Rick Young was also recognized for the contribution that he continues to give to his alma mater.
McMichael School Principal Brian Wallace stated that “the Black History Program created by Mr. Brown will be incorporated in the school’s Black History curriculum every February for students of McMichael and the Mantua Community. Programs like this
reflect on Mantua’s history and the heroes of the community’s past and present.”
The honoring of the 2019 “Knowing Your Neighborhood Heroes” Wall of Fame honorees included; longtime Iconic Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, the late Mary “Mother of Mantua” Jenkins, Dr. Marcus Saunders (first African-American Chief Resident at Cooper
Hospital in 132-year history), Rev. Larry G. Patrick, Michael Thorpe, DeWayne Drummond, Gwen Morris, Khadijah Muhammad, William “Little Bill” Allen, Dexter Hamilton, Esquire, and Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown.
Mrs. Rhonda Saunders, mother of honoree Dr. Marcus Saunders, the first Black chief Resident in the 132-year history of Cooper Health Care in Camden, New Jersey summed it up best about her beloved community by saying, “They say nothing good came out of
McMichael and Mantua (“The Bottom”), don’t believe everything you hear. Thanks to everyone who put this tribute together, (Mrs. Gwen Morris, Jim Brown & Principal Brian Wallace) for the men and women are truly the honorees of the community.”
That’s how people who attended the celebration described the historic event online through their Facebook posts.
Remember there are “diamonds in the rough” in every impoverished community in Philadelphia and around the country. It is of key importance to help these “diamonds” grow their talent. Leaders must always nurture, recognize, and praise these individuals’ accomplishments, their bodies of work, and contributions to their respective communities.
As Ms. Sheila Hopkins, a McMichael alumnus said on Facebook, “The Bottom Rocks”