This has been a trying couple of years in Philadelphia, between escalating elections drama and gun violence, inflation and housing costs — not to mention all the other hardships so many citizens of our city experience.
So “it’s easy, as a Black person in Philadelphia, to be overwhelmed with what’s not working,” WURD CEO Sara Lomax-Reese says. But, she adds, that is not everything. “We tend to be a clear-eyed city, and that can lean in the direction of not seeing ourselves in the light of greatness. But this is a great city, with a lot of great accomplishments, and we want to celebrate that.”
That celebration — of Philly and of WURD, which has its 20th anniversary in 2023 — kicks off this Saturday at the station’s sixth annual Empowerment Experience, back in person after a two-year virtual hiatus. The theme, Bringing Joy — and Power — to the People, is a nod to what Lomax-Reese hopes to build in the coming year.
“We want to be intentional about embracing the things that are uplifting,” she says.
The Empowerment Experience, at Philly Power Market at 1835 W. Oxford Street will include a holiday marketplace with Black-owned small businesses, crafters and creators — a way, Lomax-Reese says, to encourage “conscious consumerism that plows money back into the community” this holiday season. Top Chef competitor and Harlem restaurateur Chris Scott will demonstrate a recipe from his new cookbook, Homage: Recipes From an Amish Soul Food Kitchen — a dive into how ingredients from Amish communities around his hometown of Coatesville, PA, influenced his palate. (With an assist from The Food Griot, Tonya Hopkins.)
Lomax-Reese will talk with Philanthropi founder/CEO Keith Leaphart. And, then will begin her favorite part: A daytime Afrobeats dance party (and lesson, led by choreographer Sanchel Brown), from 2 to 4pm.
The free event is the start to a year that looks back at WURD’s accomplishments since 1993, when the station — the only Black-owned talk radio station in the state — was founded by Lomax-Reese’s father, the legendary Dr. Walter Lomax. It is also a time, for Lomax-Reese, to reframe an all-too-common narrative of Black people in America.
Last month, WURD partnered with The Citizen, Penn Carey Law and Mural Arts Philadelphia to broadcast our breakfast gala for the late, great Judge A. Leon Higginbotham. That event, featuring former NAACP Legal Defense Fund president Sherilynn Ifill and former Merck CEO Ken Frazier, was a celebration not just of Higginbotham — but of Black excellence writ large.
“That further affirmed this narrative that we want to take through 2023,” Lomax-Reese says. “We’re always going to cover the stuff that is hard, but we want to also be lifting up positivity and joy and excellence.”
Saturday, December 10, 11am – 4pm, free, Philly Power Market, 1835 W. Oxford Street. Register to attend here. It’s free.
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