Uncle Bobbie’s, which first opened in late 2017, quickly became a common meeting ground and cultural space for locals. The brainchild of Temple professor and public intellectual Marc Lamont Hill, Uncle Bobbie’s welcomes a diverse mix of Black readers. The bookstore, which survived multiple attempts of vandalism and burglary last year, is currently selling its stock online.
A lot of folks know that you’re a take-no-mess kind of place, but some of us have the privilege of knowing how soulful you are. When I think about your soulfulness, I think about how, within Black Philadelphia, you can experience art, music, culture and spirit easily, and sometimes all around you.
When there’s not an airborne pandemic, you can feel it walking past drum lines on Market Street, or on the dance floor at the party Friends and Fam, or while moving among the crowds at the Odunde Festival. During the coronavirus pandemic, Black Philadelphians have continued generations-long traditions of mission-based community work, mutual aid and resistance.
And I think of the pride you inspire. Some people are surprised to learn that Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, John Coltrane, Barkley Hendricks, and Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor were all from here—but Philadelphians will remind you.
And much of the nation got to see how proud Philadelphians are of our city during the Election, as protesters turned out to insist that the vote count continue, to music, dancing, with many in costumes, in ways that only Philadelphians would.
Sometimes folks from out of town wonder why the pride runs so deep. I could point to our food or our cultures, or list more Philly legends who made a difference. But really, Philly, there’s never been a time when you and your residents haven’t been critical to the American story. Last year just gave us more examples.