The New Freedom District Tour
Honoring our Past with a Vision for the Future
the Inauguration of West Philly’s New Freedom District
On the weekend of May 16 and 17, 2015 the ICPIC New Africa Center / Muslim American Museum & Archive located at 4243 Lancaster Ave, Philadelphia Pa 19104 hosted a profound historical event with the theme ‘Honoring our Past with a Vision for the Future’.
On Saturday May 16 at 1pm ICPIC commemorated the late international leaders El-Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X) 90th birthday and Imam W.D. Mohammed’s 40th year anniversary of leadership by placing a mock Pennsylvania Historical Marker at 4218 Lancaster Ave in their honor.
The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission have approved the New Africa Center’s request for a PA Historical Marker for Muhammad’s Mosque #12 at 4218 Lancaster Ave in West Philadelphia during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s granting historical status to one of the most important sites in Philadelphia’s black community history. Malcolm X and Imam W. D. Mohammed both were teachers and administrators at Mosque #12 during this period.
The charismatic figures of Malcolm X, Imam Wallace D. Muhammad, and Cecil B. Moore made Mosque #12 one of the most historic spaces in Pennsylvania.
The occasion also included the Inauguration of West Philly’s New Freedom District. ICPIC have designated the lower part of Lancaster Ave from 48th Streets to 32nd Street and it’s surrounding area as the Historic New Freedom District because of the areas rich cultural history of institutions, organizations, events, and individual struggling to preserver the unity, dignity and humanity of the African American Community in it’s Quest for Freedom, Justice and Equality.
#1 The Ellen Powell Tiberino Memorial Museum 3819 Hamilton St. Philadelphia, Pa 19104 215.386.3784
Established in October 16, 1999 The Ellen Powell Tiberino Memorial Museum celebrates the life and career of this renowned Philadelphia Artist. The complex includes a common courtyard decorated with sculptures and permanent murals. The Tiberino Museum encourages artistic awareness and a love of community and spirit.
#2 Dr. Martin Luther King Mural & Marker @ 40th & Lancaster Ave.
An official State Historical Marker, mural and MLK sculpture commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King's 1965 "Freedom Now" Rally. On August 3, 1965, Dr. King addressed a crowd of 10,000 at the intersection of 40th Street, Lancaster Avenue and Haverford Avenue. The historic event was part of Dr. King's "Freedom Now" tour to Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland and Boston in gratitude for support given to his Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King brought his message into northern Black neighborhoods, supporting local civil rights efforts and raising funds.
#3 Site of Early Nation of Islam Temple #12 @ 4218 Lancaster Ave.
Pennsylvania’s first Nation of Islam temple. Former home of the African American Muslim Community of Philadelphia during the 1950s and 1960s under the leadership of Elijah Muhammad. Malcom X and Imam Wallace D. Muhammad were administrators and teachers here.
#4 Laura Wheeler Waring, Artist & Art Educator. Home at 765 N. 43rd St with Pa Marker
.. studied art in this city and in France. She headed the Art Department, Cheyney State College, and her works are part of the National Portrait Gallery and other major collections. Born on May 16, 1887, in Hartford, Connecticut, Laura Wheeler Waring was an African-American teacher and artist who became known for her portraits; the subjects she painted include W.E.B. Du Bois and Marian Anderson. A member of the NAACP, Wheeler also contributed many illustrations to its magazine, The Crisis. She died at age 60 on February 3, 1948, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.)
#5 Ward A.M.E Church/ 43rd st Methodist Church 728 N.43rd St
The African Methodist Episcopal Church has rejected the negative theological interpretations which rendered persons of African descent second class citizens. This church was founded on the strong belief that God is God all the time and for every body. The church was born in protest against slavery. The Mission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church is to minister to the emotional, intellectual, spiritual, environmental and physical needs of all people by spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ through both word and deed. African Methodist Episcopal Churches engage in carrying out the purpose of the original Free African Society, out of which the AME Church evolved: which is, to seek out and save the lost, and to serve the needy.
#6 Local Hero’s Mural
The Local Hero’s Mural at the New Africa Freedom Square at 4234 Lancaster Ave has memorialized 9 outstanding community activist, business owners and civic leaders from the Belmont section of West Philly. These honorable men and women were pillars of our community. Their names are as followed from left to right: Lloyd Mason, Oscar Adams, Abdul Malik Muhammad, Asaimah Muhammad, George L. Dunbar Sr., Sonny Martin, Leo Morris, Brenda A. Showers, Nathaniel Boyd
#7 The Sister Clara Mohammed School and Muhammad Square Park@47th&Wyalusing Av
Early History: In 1918, a great woman by the name of Clara Muhammad was married to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Together, they dedicated themselves to educating their own children and not leaving their destiny in the hands of the American educational system. They risked their lives and their freedom in an era when not only was independent education illegal, but bold, independent thinking by African Americans was considered a threat to the United States of America. As a result of their dedication to their mission, Clara and Elijah Muhammad carved a space in American history –she as The Mother of Education and he as the foundation of Islam in America- and opened up the very first Islamic School in the nation; thus changing the face of freedom and education in America forever.
#8 Millcreek Arts & Cultural Center/ Shanahan Catholics Club 4624 Lancaster Av
The Mill Creek Arts and Cultural Center (Formally know as the Shanahan Catholic Club) located at 4624 Lancaster Avenue. This historic community cornerstone and Beacon of Hope is Mill Creek's and our surrounding communities ONLY arts, cultural, historical and community run center.
#9 International Muslim Brotherhood / Quba Masjid & Quba Institute School 47th Lancaster
In the 1940s the Quba, Inc. (formerly the International Muslim Brotherhood) was founded. Imam Nasir Ahmed and a handful of determined followers left the anonymity and security of a secluded agrarian community (Addenu Allahi Universal Arabic Association) of Sunni Muslims that had been formed by Professor Muhammad Ezzaldeen in Southern New Jersey to start the International Muslim Brotherhood in Philadelphia. These believers put their own meager contributions together and opened their first official masjid on Christian Street in South Philadelphia in 1949, relocating to Lancaster Avenue in the 1950s. Thus began the 60 year journey of the Quba, Inc.
#10 Blankenburg School Yard/ African American Grave Yard, 46th & Merion Ave
Olive Cemetery was an African American Cemetery located at Girard & Belmont Avenue. It was established February 1849. In 1923 remains were removed and interred at the Eden Cemetery. The famous abolitionist and freedom fighter Fredrick Douglass spoke here at this African American cemetery. Rudolph Blankenburg School is a historic school building located in Mill Creek. It was designed by Irwin T. Catharine and built in 1923-1925.
#11 Stephen Smith Home@1050 N. Belmont Av
Stephen Smith was born a slave in Dauphin County in 1795, fifteen years after the state had first passed its gradual abolition act. In 1804, he was sold to a new master, a lumber merchant, who brought him to nearby Columbia, in Lancaster County, separating the young boy from his mother. Smith worked in the lumberyard, earned some money, and eventually saved enough not only to pay $100 for his freedom, but also to purchase $50 worth of lumber to start his own business. An extremely successful businessman in Columbia, Smith eventually moved to Philadelphia and became a prominent member of the free black community who helped finance and lead the Abolitionist Movement during the early 1800’s
#12 The Historical Belmont Avenue Kappa House, 1007 Belmont Av
The Fraternity established the Philadelphia (PA) Alumni Chapter on May 25, 1922. It was the third alumni chapter established in the eastern corridor, and the second city to accommodate both a Greek letter and alumni chapter. The inspiration for the establishment of the Chapter was Founder Lee , who was residing in Philadelphia following his discharge from the military.
Since its inception, the Philadelphia (PA) Alumni Chapter has long been an active leader in the Philadelphia community. During the 20th century, the city was the site of three Grand Chapter meetings – the 20th in 1930, the 49th in 1959, and the 72nd in 1995.
Prior to 1951, the Chapter held its monthly meetings in the homes of brothers. In 1951, the Chapter purchased a property on Belmont Avenue for $7,000. It sold the building a few years later and began meeting in the YMCA located at 52nd and Samson Streets.
#13 Mural and Pa Historical Marker of the Negro Baseball League@44th & Parkside Ave
44th and Parkside Ballpark was home to the Philadelphia Stars of the Negro Leagues from 1936-52. Now at the corner of Belmont and Parkside Avenues, near to where the ballpark was located, is a wonderful remembrance of it. Included are a large mural featuring scenes from the ballpark, a statue of an unnamed Stars player, as well as an historical marker which describes the significance of the site. It is a well done tribute to a ballpark and team that most people either have forgotten or never knew about.
#14 Underground Railroad Museum / American Women’s Heritage Society@2000 Belmont Mansion Dr 215.878.8844
Learn about American History from the house that Lived it. Experience 18th and 19th century history through the events and lives of people associated with Belmont Mansion in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, PA. Our house museum is dedicated to colonial history and the 19th century network of people and places known as the "underground railroad." Built in the early eighteenth century, the Mansion is one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in the United States. The Belmont Mansion property became part of Fairmount Park in 1869, and is now an underground railroad museum open to the public for tours.
#16 Father Divines Peace Mission/ United Mission Church/PA Railroad/YMCA/2nd Antioch Baptist 907 N.41st St
Built in 1892 as a YMCA branch for the Pennsylvania Railroad, this building later became part of the Peace Mission, which was founded by Father Divine (ca. 1876-1965). According to Cooperman, the Peace Mission moved to Philadelphia permanently in 1942, and this building became the United Mission Church by 1951. Owned by the Peace Mission until 1998, the building has also served the Second Antioch Baptist Church congregation and today is home to a charter school.
#17 Mount Pisgah A.M.E. Church/ Centenary Methodist Church 428 N 41st St
Mount Pisgah African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized by a group of faithful Christians in the home of Richard Berry at 4100 Ludlow Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1833. Later, they joined with Richard Allen and the Bethel Corporation. A lot was purchased and a frame structure was erected on Locust Street near 40th Street. In those days, the members, both men and women, did the actual work, working at their regular jobs during the day and the building of the church in the evenings. Thus, these hardy pioneers persevered to enjoy worshipping God "under their own vine and fig tree."
#18 Sarah Allen Nursing Home 4035 Parrish St
Sarah Allen (1764–1849) was wife of Rev. Richard Allen the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She was one of the most famous and revered church women of her time, beloved for establishing the first recognized charity organization for female parishioners and honored as the (AME) Church's first female missionary. She also aided runaway slaves through the famous Underground Railroad.
#19 First African Presbyterian Church/ Emmanuel Presbyterian Church 4159 W. Girard Ave
First African Presbyterian Church is one of Philadelphia's oldest black churches. Today it is still a scene of vibrant worship. In 1807, First African Presbyterian Church was organized in Philadelphia, the first African-American Presbyterian Church in the U.S. This church has a rich and complex history, which it builds on as it charts a new course in worship encounters. FAPC seeks to blend traditional aspects of worship with the contemporary in its mission to revive the church. The church also does great work in the community.
#20 Lombard Central Church 4201 Powelton Ave
Lombard Central Presbyterian Church was founded in 1844 by Stephen Gloucester and was originally the Central Colored Presbyterian Church. In 1848 the name was changed to Lombard Street Central Presbyterian Church and shortened to Lombard Central Presbyterian in 1939. The church moved to West Philadelphia in 1939 because the congregation had outgrown the original building at 8th and Lombard Street. Stephen was one of four sons of John Gloucester who founded the First African Presbyterian Church at Girard Avenue and 42nd Street in Philadelphia in 1807 which had 123 members by 1811. Stephen was among the primary organizers for the Underground Railroad. William Still, the Father of the Underground Railroad was an Elder at Lombard Street Central Presbyterian Church.
#23 The Dupree Art Studio, 3617 Haverford Avenue
was founded by James Dupree an accomplished artist, educator, and business owner. Dupree’s works are in the permanent collections of several museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, and the Schomburg Museum in Copenhagen; as well as in the private collections of the Dave Matthews Band and Patti LaBelle.
#25 Shelter for Colored Orphans site 44th and Haverford Av
Originally called the Association for the Care of Colored Orphans, the Shelter for Colored Orphans was founded by Quaker women in 1822 to care for black orphans, both boys and girls. First located on the east side of 13th Street above Callowhill Street, it was attacked during an 1837 riot. Later, it added education and training in domestic work to its shelter program, and moved to 44th and Wallace Streets. Its 1862 building at this location was completed with Yarnell and Cooper and, according to an 1870 annual report, overlooked the Pennsylvania Hospital's grounds to the south. In 1915, the shelter relocated to Cheney, Pa., to property adjoining what is now known as Cheyney University, and became a home for girls.
#26 Community Education Center/Abolitionists/ Quakers/Underground Railroad 3500 Lancaster Av.
In the nineteenth century, Friends of the middle and upper socio-economic classes left the Center City Philadelphia area and moved out toward the city's suburbs. While the wealthier Friends chose places along the mainline, such as Germantown or Haverford, the middling sorts stopped in West Philadelphia. The first meeting house on the site was erected in 1851; the present meeting house-school complex was built in 1901 for the use of the Hicksite Friends
#27-Original Black Bottom 32nd to 40th St from University Av to Lancaster Av est 5,000 to 10,000 people displaced
The “Black Bottom” was the residential community that existed in the section of Philadelphia known by city planners as “Area 3″, and referred to now as “University City”. The Black Bottom was framed by 33rd and 40th Streets on the east and west, and Lancaster / Powelton and Curie Boulevard (University Avenue) on the north and south. The Black Bottom received its name from its location at the “bottom” of West Philadelphia. It was also a predominantly African American community; hence the name “Black” Bottom. By 1950, the Black Bottom was a dynamic, working-class neighborhood of rowhouses and businesses. The average family had four or more children plus two adults. Many homes were owned by African American families while still more families rented. All homes were occupied – not one was vacant.
#28-Lincoln Highway(Lancaster Pike) & Lincoln Funeral Train 32nd Market-Chestnut St.
Lincoln Funeral Train arrived and waited here while the Presidents body traveled down Market Street to Independence Hall for viewing by over 1 million people with lines stretching along Market Street from river to river.
#29 Mary Miles aka the Rosa Parks of Pa
Here at the West Chester and Philadelphia Depot in 1867 a Black female activist, Mary Miles on her way to what would later become Lincoln University refused to move to the segregated car of the Baltimore Central RR train. This became the Pa test case for integrating public transportation in Pa.
#30 Overbrook High School
Landmark Philadelphia public high school of Wilt Chamberlain, Will Smith and America’s first black astronaut.
#31 St Thomas African Episcopal Church
relocated to 6361 Lancaster Ave, one of the oldest African American churches in the US born out of the "African Church" 1792 out of the Free African Society of 1787 right after the Revolution by Absalom Jones and Richard Allen.
#32 Paul Robeson House 4949/4951 Walnut Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19139 215.747.4675
The Paul Robeson House in the Walnut Hill community of West Philadelphia, where he lived from 1966 to 1976 with his sister Marian Forsythe, is now a certified Pennsylvania historic landmark. You’re invited to join the countless visitors from around the world who have explored the life, legacy and remarkable achievements of Paul Robeson in the home where he spent the last ten years of his life.
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Mujahiddeen Mohammed Program Manager stated, “Our New Freedom District initiative will have a significant impact on our communities, inspiring a new sense of citizenship, civic responsibility, pride and ownership of the community. State Representative Vanessa Brown’s office presented a citation from the PA Black Legislative Caucasus authorizing the New Freedom District and City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell has given her endorsement. David Fattah father of Congressman Chaka Fattah along with many other community leaders have shown their support and have endorsed this initiative.
This area has been designated as one of the Promised Zones in the country by President Obama because of the poverty and urban decay within these communities.
The ICPIC New Africa Center unveiled it’s plans for the New Africa Freedom Square and the vision for the New Africa Center’s Expansion Plan. Abdul Rahim Muhammad, Executive Director stated, the term New Africa was introduced to us by the late Muslim American leader, Imam W. D. Mohammed, he stated, “New Africa: represents a new mind, a new thinking, a new spirit and a new life for black people in America. We are not from the Motherland anymore; we are Africans living in America –“New Africans”. Our programs are design to inform and educate all people about our rich Islamic-West Africa heritage and the culture, history, struggle and spiritual growth & development of the African American Muslim Community.
“Our long-term goal is to develop an Avenue on the Arts West, Lancaster Ave Historic New Freedom District. We will utilize the vacant lot and buildings at 4237, 4239, & 4241 Lancaster Ave. and construct a completely new 5 story multi-purpose facility. The 1st floor will be an expansion of our 4243 Lancaster Ave New Africa Center/Muslim American Museum & Archive along with a Cafe, the 2nd floor will be our New Africa- Business, Arts & Technology Centers. For the 3rd, 4th & 5th floors, we will develop new apartment units for low income or senior citizens. This multipurpose facility will serve as an anchor for the development of a new mixture of businesses and apartment units along Lancaster Ave from 4245 to 4255 along with utilizing the urban green space at 4234 to 4240 as a New Africa Freedom Square”.
The program was followed by a Community Family Day at our New Africa Freedom Square in partnership with Feed Philly and the Philadelphia Masjid on the urban green space across from the New Africa Center for a fun filled day with games for children, entertainment, local history tours, health fair, resource information tables and free food for everyone.
A special exhibit on Malcolm X and Imam W.D. Mohammed designed by ICPIC’s curator Micheal Muhammad was also on display at the ICPIC New Africa Center’s Museum.
On Sun May 17 from 2p to 5pm ICPIC hosted a Symposium, “Focusing on the Life & Times of Malcolm X and Imam W. D. Mohammed” at the Sister Clara Muhammad School 4700 Wyalusing Ave Philadelphia Pa.
The guest speakers included Imam Muhammad Abdul-Aleem, Imam Mustapha El-Amin NJ, Imam Ishmael Qadir, Imam Kenneth Nuriddin, Imam Alford Muhammad and Imam Mujahiddeen Mohammed.
The ICPIC New Freedom District is looking for business investors, sponsors, proposal writers, business managers and developers, real estate developers and skilled individual looking for a opportunity to expand their business and support this New Freedom District initiative please call Mujahiddeen Mohammed.
A self-guided tour of historical African American
sites in the West Philadelphia area
West Philly’s New Freedom District Map
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Hours & Contact Info
1am to 6pm Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday
4243 Lancaster Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104
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