Residents honor a black historical figure from Northeast Philadelphia and discuss the political climate in this week’s letters to the editor.
Honoring Cesar Penrose
In honor of Black History Month, I would like to share some findings from my research relating to the historic designation of Trinity Church Oxford’s Parish House.
With assistance of fellow local historians Joe Menkevich and Fred Moore, it was recently discovered that a man named Cesar Penrose (of African descent) once owned the very land that the much-revered Parish House sits on.
The 2.25-acre property on which the Parish House was built was purchased in 1856 and 1857 from the heirs of Cesar Penrose. Penrose also served as sexton of Trinity Church Oxford for over 50 years. He lived on a 1/3 -acre lot adjacent to the church on what is now Longshore Avenue. In 1816, Penrose purchased 1.9 acres from the estate of Benjamin Cottman. The parcel was adjacent to his lot and the 3-acre church property. Upon his death, Penrose left the two tracts of land to his four children to share equally. By 1856, his heirs decided to sell the properties. John Cooke and William Overington purchased both properties and then transferred ownership to Trinity Oxford.
In the Rev. Edward Y. Buchanan’s (brother of President James Buchanan) Historical Sketch of Trinity Church Oxford, Philadelphia, which was read in church on Sunday Aug. 2, 1857, Buchanan makes reference to Penrose in his “Epitaphs From The Churchyard,” where he said, “In Memory of Cesar Penrose, Sexton of this Church more than half a century. Good and faithful servant, well done. Enter thou into the joy of the Lord.”
As we celebrate Black History Month, let us remember Cesar Penrose who lived, worked and owned land right here in Northeast Philadelphia when slavery was still commonplace.
Language double standard
I hear so many people in this country complaining about other people speaking other languages other than English. And yet no one complains about the Russian immigrants speaking their language.
If you see the news about hate, it is always the same, Muslim, Latinos and blacks. But the Russian immigrants are OK to keep their language and culture.
Open discussions will help
Too many people in too many locations are yelling me, me, me. These folks are advocating for just one person — themselves and their like-minded — saying I’m right and all else are wrong concerning their very narrow-minded views on life.
There is this other, much larger group called the We’s who are not so vocal in taking action opposed to the Me’s. Two problems arise when this extreme-right atmosphere takes root. The Me’s become very nationalistic and what follows is a culture of us against them, with no room for negotiation.
The We’s must be as diligent as the Me’s as to let the truth be exposed, whichever way that might be. An informed and open discussion is the best way to ensure and protect us all from the dangers of extreme views.
America still has to remain the beacon of democracy. Our constitution espouses “We the People” and not “Me the People.” May the most reasonable intelligent movement rule.
Remember those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it. Benjamin Franklin said it best — “Hang together or most assuredly we will hang separately.”
Complacency in shooting
Where was social media when the Florida school attacker posted disturbing material online? He was also on the radar by the FBI months ago, so I don’t understand the idiocy of letting him slip by. Is anyone doing their job? Haven’t we learned from Columbine, Sandy Hook, the Orlando nightclub, or the Las Vegas shooting? Haven’t we seen all this before, when a congressman says something has to been done and then dissipates away from public attention until a new attack emerges? And no one gets it and nothing changes.
Welcome to the new world order of complacency.
Gun control is not the answer when good people need guns against bad people. But it’s ludicrous to sell assault rifles when that’s exactly what it means: to assault.