Listen to Ms. T 's recording of "Celebrating March Madness" here.
Celebrating March Madness
By Ms. T
Just saying, those few words conjure up so many visuals that drive forward frenzied and scrambling activity as the memories continue to flow.
Imagine the CHS Clipper Basketball team, once again, state champs or a mere game or two away from it.
Yes, C Pride Alive, ballers, OG’s and young bucks, the Orange & Black, the Clip Joint. Yeah, Freddy P’s gym, the Ship, pom poms, cheerleaders, new and older, pep rallies, nail biters, reunions and more. Yes, all a part of Chester’s March Madness.
Photo of the Chester Clippers huddling after a win over Methacton in Feb. 2019.
So, let’s not then forget Fredia “The Cheetah” Gibbs! “Who?” You might ask. Well, another of Chester’s own, listed as an American martial artist but more renowned as “the Most Dangerous Woman in the World!” With numerous awards, wonder how her very own First Female in Delco Sports Legend statue is faring? Read about it in Chester Matters and the Inquirer.
Fredia Gibbs (right) with Stefan Roots (center) and Ms. T (left) celebrating at MJ Freed Theater on MLK Day 2019.
But aside from sports, where are we during this March of Madness? Me, Ms. T? I’m busy as usual. Busy planning a year of worthy topics ideally to grow this more comfy, more “at home with our history” consciousness regarding our city – Chester, PA
During February’s Black History Month, thanks to a CMP Radio show offering, the renowned Arturo Schomburg was highlighted. His Google overview lists him as a Puerto Rican of African and German descent who was also a historian, writer, collector, and activist, who dedicated his life to the documentation of black history and culture. In 1926, his collection of 10,000 pieces was installed in the NY Public Library. We thank you sir. And all because a teacher remarked that “Negroes have no history.”
Let’s look just a bit further. Fast forward to 1984 when Howard Dodson, Jr. became the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, NY occupying that position for over a quarter of a century (1984-2010). Called from retirement, he is currently the Director of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and Howard University Libraries. His hometown – Chester, PA is correct if that’s what you thought.
Twyla And Howard Dodson Jr. at the 2019 University of Pennsylvania's Annual Callaloo Conference. The theme was the Legacy of 1619 and Mr. Dodson was the evening's Keynote speaker.
Hummm…okay. When I think of other topics, graduations, family reunions, vacations and more, June is Black Music Month. I’m smiling as Ms. Brandi Wells comes to mind.
Come on sing it out loud with me. Sunrise (in my Brandi voice) but I digress… She is only one of the many talents coming from our city.
Other ideas are starting to flow now. I’m on a roll! Our Mother’s Day parade (longest running one in the country). Family reunions (even during Covid)? Genealogy? Why not... folks say that everybody in Chester is related, IJS. How about a fall submission on school memories, favorite teachers and their students. Perhaps a “where are they now” kind of thing… I can contribute from my list of Dr.’s alone from this city, and how ‘bout we have at least 15 to 20 published authors that I know of! Time will be the determiner.
Ideally, my goal is to encourage more reading, more exploring, more research, more discernment and critical thinking so that we can grow to KNOW MORE and begin to educate ourselves. We can then definitively say NO MORE to the ails of our beloved city and offer and pursue workable solutions.
I’m Twyla Simpkins, they call me Ms. T. Now a retired CUSD teacher, Founding Director of the Yes We Can Achievement & Cultural Center (the old girls Y), archivistorian, preservationist, community activist and more. I’m committing to whetting my readers appetite to other possibilities so that we expand our definition of (JUST) who we are. Just asking…Who’s with me?
More from Ms. T's Corner coming soon!