Frank Rizzo: Philadelphia’s Tough Cop Turned Mayor

On Saturday night, August 29, 1970, unknown assailants shot to death Philadelphia police sergeant Frank Von Colln while stationed in a small guardhouse in the Cobbs Creek section of the city’s expansive Fairmount Park. No one witnessed the killing, but police suspected that it was the work of the Black Panther Party, an African American revolutionary organization that endorsed violence as a...
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African Americans and Civil Rights in Pennsylvania

Summer and swimming go hand in hand – or so thought the Creative Steps Day Care Camp. The camp’s leaders had signed a contract to use the pool at a private swim club, but when the children – 46 African Americans and ten Hispanics ranging from kindergarten through seventh grade – arrived for their summer swim, they were subjected to harsh criticism by some club members....
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Civil War Muster Rolls

The son of wealthy Philadelphia sailmaker and noted abolitionist James Forten (1766–1842), Robert Bridges Forten was born in Philadelphia on May 12, 1813, and followed in his father’s footsteps as a successful businessman and distinguished antislavery activist. Although he was more than fifty years old and in London when he learned the Union Army was enlisting African Americans in dedicated...
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Pioneering the Civil Rights Movement

Many individuals tend to overlook the political work championed by Black abolitionists during the second half of the nineteenth century. Instead, they celebrate slavery’s demise and then suddenly move on to the civil rights movement of the twentieth century, possibly unaware of what took place on the nation’s streets and in legislative offices and courtrooms from the 1860s through the 1890s. The...
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“A Corn Song” Musical Score by Henry Thacker Burleigh

Manuscript Group 9, Pennsylvania Writers’ Collection, 1899–1970, at the Pennsylvania State Archives includes nine original musical scores by the noted African American composer, arranger, and baritone singer Henry Thacker Burleigh. Born in Erie, Erie County, on December 2, 1866, he was admitted to the National Conservancy of Music in New York City where he served as a copyist for Antonin Dvorak...
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