Dr. Walter P. Lomax Jr. was many things.
A physician who provided care for underserved communities for more than three decades. A savvy real estate entrepreneur. A generous philanthropist. A loving husband and father of six, and a pillar of the many Philly communities in which he lived and worked. Both formally, through The Lomax Family Foundation, and informally, he supported neighbors in-need and organizations he believed in—from PhilaDanco and Art Sanctuary to The African American Museum in Philadelphia and New Freedom Theatre.
And as the owner of WURD, Pennsylvania’s only talk radio station owned by and targeting African Americans, Lomax was committed to amplifying his ability to uplift and empower others.
“My dad wasn’t a media person—he was a doctor who was [also] very keenly aware of real estate. But he really understood the power of media, and recognized that through this media property, he would be able to empower many more people than he could empower on a one-on-one basis,” explains Sara Lomax-Reese, one of Lomax’s six grown children and the President and CEO of WURD. Her family’s decision to buy WURD in 2003, she says, was really about creating an independently owned and operated media organization that could serve the community. “It was about community empowerment, and Founder’s Day is just an extension of that.”
“There are incredible disparities that go back generations, that are structural and deeply embedded into the culture of this country,”
The seventh annual event, which will be held this Friday, August 23rd, and be broadcast live all day on WURD, will feature free programming centered around the values Lomax, who died at age 81 in 2013, held dear: job creation, wealth redistribution, health and wellness—and joy.
The event will take place at the Free Library of Philadelphia. From 9 am-5 pm, there will be a job fair, career-readiness workshops, health screenings, expungement resources, mindful movement, and panels on topics like gentrification, pipeline issues in STEM, and environmental justice; from 5 pm-7 pm, there will be a rooftop lounge for millennials who want to mix and mingle while the station broadcasts its regular millennial-focused show, The Lounge.
Given our city’s dire racial disparities—and that the unemployment rate among African American adults in Philly and the state, at 17.7 percent and 15.4 percent, respectively, is higher than that of any other group—the job-focused programming, presented as part of a new initiative WURD is calling LivelyHOOD, is particularly crucial. “There are incredible disparities that go back generations, that are structural and deeply embedded into the culture of this country,” Lomax-Reese says. Founder’s Day intends to offer information and opportunities to those who for too long have gone without both.
It will be a day of celebration, of compassion, and of change—all hallmarks of the life Lomax led, and the legacy he left behind.
“You have these markers of how many people listen to your radio station or how many Facebook likes you get, but at the end of the day, all that really matters is whether you’re making a difference in the lives of people who need it the most,” says Lomax-Reese. “To me, that’s what WURD is about, that’s what Founder’s Day is about, that’s what my mom and dad were about, that’s what I’m about.”