Legacy on 52nd Street

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This Black History Month, we collaborated with Rowhome Productions and Urban Art Gallery for a special celebration of 52nd street's history as a hub for Black-owned businesses in West Philadelphia. "Legacy on 52nd Street" highlights longstanding businesses on the corridor through audio pieces, coupled with pro-portraiture and a culminating, debut exhibition at Urban Art Gallery. Listen to their stories below!


African Cultural Arts Forum (ACAF)

223 S 52nd St, Philadelphia

The African Cultural Art Forum, founded by brothers Rashie Abdul-Samad and Sharif Abdur-Rahim, is a testament to becoming the producer, rather than the consumer. Inspired by the words of Malcolm X, the brothers opened the African Cultural Art Forum in 1969. The shop specializes in jewelry, incense, art, and much more. All of the merchandise sold is produced by members of the African Diaspora worldwide. Listen to the brothers reminisce on becoming the oldest vendor of its kind in the Philadelphia region and what they hope the future holds for their descendants.

Produced by Danya AbdelHameid


110 S 52nd St, Philadelphia

“That was the thing about Babe and His Girl…when you came, you felt like a Queen.” At 110 S 52nd Street, Babe is a mecca of women’s fashion in Philadelphia’s downtown Black America. Couple and co-owners Ted and Miriam Hall opened Babe in 1968, under the name “His Girl.” By 1972, the couple decided to rename the store, as a way to progress with the movements of the time. The couple has not stopped growing and setting trends since. Listen to the duo discuss the importance of “touch and feel,” the stability of 52nd Street, and how their business has grown over the 56 years they’ve been in operation.

Produced by Alex Lewis

Brown Sugar

219 S 52nd St, Philadelphia

When Jessie Joseph arrived in Philadelphia in 1976, he noticed that the area lacked the Caribbean cuisine he grew up eating. Tired of having to travel to New York for these foods, Jessie decided to open his own restaurant. Since then, the Caribbean community around 52nd Street has grown exponentially. Listen as Jessie talks about the restaurant's most popular dishes, his appreciation of his regular patrons, and his passion for the music of Trinidad.

Produced by Danya AbdelHameid

Cotton's Place

310 S 52nd St, Philadelphia

After taking over her parents’ restaurant in 2013, Lakita Scott has been dedicated to preserving her family’s legacy on 52nd Street. She renamed the restaurant to honor her late father, whose nickname “Cotton” now adorns the storefront. While Lakita values tradition, she is not afraid to incorporate new ideas. The salmon cheesesteak, a dish she added almost immediately after taking over, has become a bestseller at Cotton’s Place. In this piece, Lakita shares memories of  growing up in the community surrounding 52nd Street and her hopes and dreams for the future of Cotton’s.

Produced by John Myers

Dynamite Pest Control

279 S 52nd St, Philadelphia

Pest control can be a messy business, but, for Richard Foreman Jr., it’s a labor of love. Started by his father, Richard Foreman Sr. in 1969, Dynamite Pest Control was one of the few office buildings that existed at the time on 52nd Street. Pest control was a key part of Richard Jr.'s childhood. Now, the trade is a natural gift. Listen to hear how 52nd Street has gone through different stages over the decades, Richard’s hope for young people entering the extermination trade, and how pest control has introduced him to a world of new skills.

Produced by John Myers

Hakim's Bookstore

210 S 52nd St, Philadelphia

Founded in 1959, Hakim’s Bookstore started out of the trunk of a car. Dawud Hakim, an African American scholar and lecturer, desired to tell his community the history of African Americans beyond the lens of slavery. Over the years, the store grew to be the first and oldest African American bookstore in Philadelphia. Since Dawud’s passing in 1997, his daughter Yvonne has continued her father’s legacy. Yvonne recounts her father’s determination to build the bookstore’s customer base and distribute hard-to-find histories of the black community. Listen to hear how local media helped keep Hakim’s Bookstore open and her mixed feelings on the changes happening on 52nd Street.

Produced by Alex Lewis

Malcolm X Park

5100 Pine St, Philadelphia

Gregorio Cojulun Jr., also known as Mr. Greg, is the president of Malcolm X Memorial Park. To Mr. Greg, the park provides a respite from the grind of everyday life. The space features murals of not only the park’s namesake, Malcolm X, but also Betty Shabazz, the wife of the revolutionary who was a key player in holding the movement together after her husband’s assassination. Listen to hear what future projects Mr. Greg hopes to add to the park and what history he believes children can learn from being in a public space dedicated to such a visionary.

Produced by Alex Lewis

Urban Art Gallery

262 S 52nd St, Philadelphia 

Kalphonse Morris, owner of Urban Art Gallery, wears many hats: he works as a mailman, landlord, and real estate investor along with running Urban Art Gallery. Kalphonse was inspired to open Urban Art Gallery because of the stigma often faced by Black art appreciators in larger art institutions. Since the gallery’s founding, it has expanded beyond art to serve as a community space for a variety of programs for children and adults. Listen to hear how he hopes to expand the offerings of Urban Art Gallery and his thoughts on the importance of giving back.

Produced by Danya AbdelHameid

Presented in Partnership with Rowhome Productions

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With Photography by Paolo Jay Agbay

Paolo Jay Agbay (photographer)     Visit The Website

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