Philly launches ‘Black + Gold Series’ to foster dialogue, unity across AAPI and Black communities

(Miguel Martinez/Billy Penn)

(Miguel Martinez/Billy Penn)

A new initiative from Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration aims to bridge together Philadelphia’s Black and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

The “Black + Gold Series,” announced Tuesday by the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement (OPE), will be a year-long effort focused on building mutual understanding across cultures through a mix of events, activities, and conversations, with help from long-standing community-based organizations.

Romana Lee-Akiyama, who directs OPE, said that a November attack involving Black and Asian American teenagers on SEPTA’s Broad Street Line illuminated the need for building cross-racial understanding. Four teenage girls were charged with ethnic intimidation and aggravated assault in connection with the incident.

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Lee-Akiyama stressed that the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection has much more work to do to “bridge divides and create opportunities for healing.”

OPE said it chose to launch the series in February as a nod to two important celebrations: Black History Month and Lunar New Year.

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Jeanette Bavwidinsi, who directs the mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement, said “the relationship between our city’s Asian and Black communities runs deep and spans generations,” adding that she was certain the series will be a “masterclass in human relations, coalition building, and forward-thinking — at a table set by Asian and Black community members, but open to every resident yearning for a more perfect Philadelphia.”

OPE officials invited community leaders and organizations to submit ideas for programs that can foster dialog and unity across Asian and Black communities in specific neighborhoods, schools, and community centers (whether in person or virtually).

Upcoming events include an Asian Arts Initiative roundtable on mutual aid in resistance movements, an intercultural seed exchange, a community conversation about anti-Black racism, and a Black History Month Bunka-Sai Cultural Fair.

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