Citizen Spotlight: Faye Anderson

December 11, 2018

Faye Anderson is director of All That Philly Jazz, a place-based public history project that is documenting Philadelphia’s golden age of jazz.  The places include Geno’s Empty Foxhole, which was located in the basement of the parish hall of St. Mary’s Church at Penn.

At our Citizen Salon exhibition, Faye experienced a rush of emotions upon seeing the portrait of Marian Anderson.  Robert Savon Pious captured the contralto’s grace and determination to navigate racial obstacles on her journey from the stage of South Philly’s Union Baptist Church to the world stage at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.  Faye thought that on her shoulders stand those who were inspired by her act of resistance at the Lincoln Memorial.  They became the leaders and foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement.

Faye is also involved in the fight to save Abolition Hall, an Underground Railroad site that is at risk of degradation by a proposed townhouse development. The landmark is located on the Corson Homestead, the ancestral home of Penn alumni Hiram Corson (1828) and Joseph Kirby Corson (1863). After the Civil War, the purpose-built structure was converted into a studio where Thomas Hovenden painted “The Last Moments of John Brown.”

The Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries–of which Penn is a member–recently launched “Chronicling Resistance, Enabling Resistance.” This project explores how to connect archival materials to current social change narratives.  Faye is curating news and information about a singular place of resistance at Abolition Hall Deserves Better.  She invites the Penn community to contribute to the crowdsourced project.