Posted October 5, 2022

High school students view historical documentaries at Temple’s Center for Anti-Racism

Local students are among the first to visit Temple University’s Center for Anti-Racism.

Girls’ High alumnae that now work for Temple interact with students from their alma mater.
Photography By: 
Ryan S. Brandenberg
Girls’ High alumnae that now work for Temple interact with students from their alma mater.

Students from two local high schools were among the first to visit Temple University’s new Center for Anti-Racism and the first to view two new PBS documentaries.

During their Sept. 8 visit, students from Philadelphia High School for Girls (commonly known as Girls’ High) and Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School were guests at an advance screening of PBS films highlighting Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman—two towering figures in the struggle to end slavery. The film screenings were sponsored by Temple’s Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership, also known as IDEAL.

“The mission at IDEAL and the Center for Anti-Racism more specifically is to support the youth of Philadelphia and particularly to find ways to strengthen existing relationships for engagement among institutions and also start new potential relationships for engagement,” said Timothy Welbeck, the center’s director. “For us, it was important to have these Philadelphia students on Temple’s campus and in the Center for Anti-Racism to witness these documentaries and learn about two of America’s most important figures.”

Tubman was a conductor of the Underground Railroad, Civil War scout, nurse and spy. Douglass was an abolitionist, orator, social reformer and statesman. The primetime specials on Tubman and Douglass will  air in October on PBS.

When they visited the center, participating students engaged with Girls’ High alumni who work at Temple. “You get much more than an education when you graduate from Girls’ High,” Valerie Harrison, Temple vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and Girls’ High alumna, told the students.

“We want you to know you have a community of support at Temple. When you go into any space and learn there is somebody else who graduated from Girls’ High, there is an immediate bond, and it is never broken.” Other Temple-affiliated Girls’ High alumnae showing support for the students at the screening were Community and Neighborhood Affairs Director Andrea Swan, KLN ’98, CLA ’11, EDU ’18; Associate Professor Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon, TFM ’96, CLA ’02; Director of Community Education Ulicia Lawrence-Oladeinde, EDU ’05,’08; Director of Communications and Special Projects Jaya Moore, KLN ’00; Technology Engineer Pamela Austin, CLA ’86, ’93; and Program Specialist Diane Spencer, EDU ’19, as well as community partner Carol Smith.   

The film screening was part of a series of events leading up to the center’s official launch in November. The center located on the first floor of Mazur Hall will focus on (1) creating cutting-edge scholarship that will shape the discourse around racism; (2) fortifying the public’s understanding of racism; and (3) implementing informed, solution-based initiatives designed to mitigate the impact of racism on individuals in Temple’s North Philadelphia neighborhood, across the region and beyond.

- Ayana Jones