Young essay winners honored at Johnson House

Last Sunday the Johnson House Historic Site capped off Black History Month events with a program commemorating the 1688 Germantown Protest Against Slavery, recognized as the first protest of its kind in America.

The program showcased winners of the Johnson House essay contest, “Protest Yesterday and Today.” The six student winners, ranging from elementary to high school, received cash prizes and read their essays to a crowded hall of parents, family, friends and community members.

Gabriel Z. Totesau (Fitler Academics Plus, Elementary), Jaerra Burton (Roosevelt Middle School), and Felicia Michelle Matthews (Hope Charter High School) took first-place prizes. Nailah Wheeler (Springside School, Elementary), Rahmeir James (Roosevelt Middle School), and Hazim Hardeman (Hope Charter High School) were runners up.

Swim coach Jim Ellis, director of the Kroc Center aquatics program, was also honored for his continuing work with young people. Ellis gained national fame from the 2007 film “Pride,” based on Ellis’s experiences coaching young African American swimmers in Philly’s Nicetown neighborhood. Ellis’ current work is focused on training African American female swimmers.

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