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Philly’s getting its first public statue of an African-American girl

Butterflies in History

Philly’s getting its first public statue of an African-American girl

Set to be unveiled this spring, the monument is a nod to the strength and heroism of Philadelphia kids.

By Michaela Winberg via

It took 335 years for Philadelphia to erect its first public monument honoring an African American. Up since September 2017, the Octavius Catto statue outside City Hall remembers a 19th century educator and civil rights activist.

Just 18 months later, the city will notch another milestone: its first statue of an African-American girl.

This spring, South Philly’s Smith Recreation Center will become home to a life-sized bronze of a middleschooler playing basketball, frozen in a decisive moment as she guards the ball from opponents unseen.

The installation is the capstone of a handful of upgrades rolled out at the rec center in the last few years, a renovation spearheaded by former Eagle Connor Barwin’s community development nonprofit Make the World Better.

At 26th and Snyder, the playground had long been in a state of disrepair.

“We were looking for a place with a lot of youth, a lot of activity and intense community …

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I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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The image of the butterfly has come to define the many expressions of the feminine black consciousness and for a good reason. The butterfly is the perfect articulation of the exquisite beauty of nature. Whether tiny or large, brightly colored or more subdued, the butterfly’s allure is undeniable. Each one displays its own unique patterns and hues, and no one species outshines any other.

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