The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, March 31, 2004  

In the Continuing Memory of Faheem Thomas-Childs

In the second stanza of his poem “Pioneers! O Pioneers!Walt Whitman writes:

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We, the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend, Pioneers! O pioneers!

And so, with that, I say:

Mark your calendars.

And I mean it this time.

Sunday, April 4, beginning at 2:00 p.m.

It’s the March to Save the Children.

The march will begin at Deliverance Evangelistic Church, the site of Faheem Thomas-Childs’s recent funeral, at 22nd Street and Lehigh Avenue, and will end at Thomas M. Peirce Elementary School, “Poppy”’s school, at 23rd and Cambria Streets. (According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, in the event of inclement weather the march will begin instead at Dobbins High School, 21st Street and Lehigh Avenue. [Ed.: The latest forecast calls for sunny weather with temperatures in the upper 50s.])

Pennsylvania State Representative Jewell Williams (D-Philadelphia County-District 197) writes in today’s Inquirer (“War on Terror? Homeland Security? Neighborhood Issues.”):

No longer can we allow fear to dictate our involvement or degree of participation if we are ever to break the wave of gun violence in our communities. How do we get involved? All of us must continue searching for ways to contribute to the solution - for a way to save ourselves and create the community and quality of life we rightfully deserve.

We must march when called upon; get active in our block and civic associations; play a super-active role in the lives of our children in their schools and in the community; demand a consistent dialogue and the engagement of elected officials in addressing the issues; and divorce ourselves from just complaining. We should ask: “What I am doing and what more can I do?”

The March to Save the Children on Sunday will be a movement led by children and youth to activate citizens across the region. Participants will send a message to communities to end the violence and become involved in the lives of our children, our schools and our neighborhoods.

The March to Save the Children is the beginning of a citywide movement for all communities and residents. We urge them to get active and get involved, to stay active and stay involved. The power of the people is always with the people. Not to use it is to lose it!

For those in the Philadelphia area not familiar with the neighborhood, allow me to direct you to the North Philadelphia station on the Broad Street subway line. From there it’s a short and easy seven-block walk, due west, to Deliverance Evangelistic Church, though there are buses running along the same path and anyone you pass along the way will be happy to put you in the right direction.

(Besides, if you happen to belong to or to attend, regularly or otherwise, a church with a small congregation, you’ve just got to see Deliverance Evangelistic. Every resident of my hometown could fit in there. In the front 20 rows of the first level, that is.)

This is not a “bad” neighborhood.

This is no time to be afraid for no reason.

Please at least think about participating.

Faheem “Poppy” Thomas-Childs

(For a touching story about the legacy of Thomas-Childs, see today’s Philadelphia Daily News: “Montco Kids Remember Slain City Schoolboy,” by Mensah M. Dean.)

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