‘Peoplehood’ parade in West Philly pits community power against oppression

    Spiral Q’s annual march for social justice through community activism wound through the streets of West Philadelphia on Saturday led by the group’s signature giant puppets.

    Board member Katrina Clark kicked off the 17th annual Peoplehood parade with a call to solidarity.

    “We have collective power within us to awaken the giant. We are stronger together than we are apart. Together, giant, we can budge boulders of oppression and step over the dark mountains in our lives. Together, giant, we can see more, shout louder, lift heavier loads, travel farther and faster. Together, giant, we rumble into our power,” she shouted as the parade stepped off at the Paul Robeson House at 50th and Walnut streets.

    The theme, “We Might All Be Giant,” was symbolized by Spiral Q’s giant puppets and echoed by the different organizations gathered for the march.

    “It’s exciting, what we do here to merge art and community,” said Rafael Reynoso, a junior at Temple University who has been working with Spiral Q since his freshman year.

    This year, Spiral Q worked with different organizations in Philadelphia, like the Journey of Hope program at Girard Medical Center, which gives support and guidance to men of Philadelphia who battle substance abuse and chronic homelessness. With the help of Spiral Q, they are given new opportunities to become involved and reintegrated into their communities and they are given new means to express themselves through art.

    Other community organizations that came out included the teenagers of Mighty Writers and the Youth Volunteer Corps.

    The youth drum corps Extreme Creations from Southwest Philadelphia provided powerful drum beats as revelers marched and chanted messages challenging oppression and discrimination. With banners that read “All our kids deserve clean water” and “White silence is violence #BlackLivesMatter,” the marchers made their way through West Philadelphia and picked up other community members along the way.

    The parade ended in Clark Park, where children used a giant papier maché hammer to smash a cardboard boulder of oppression.

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