This October, NBW joined the annual West Philly Peoplehood Parade organized by Spiral Q, another youth non-profit located on Lancaster Avenue. We've been joining this artistic celebration of community activism for years, but this year might have been the most meaningful yet. We participated with youth, parents, volunteers, and staff carrying a banner that youth had prepared in advance of the parade. We engaged NBW youth graduates through a banner-making workshop centered around the theme of this year's parade: "We All Might Be Giant."
This theme called on participants to think of themselves not as isolated individuals, but as part of a larger social organism capable of standing up to oppression and stamping it out. Our banner read "These Issues Matter" and provided space for youth and parade participants of all ages to list issues that matter to them. Messages such as, “Black Lives Matter,” “mass incarceration,” “education,” and “women’s rights,” found their place on our banner.
The issues NBW youth wrote about aligned well with other social justice banners and art on display at the Peoplehood Parade. The most attention grabbing art in the parade were the giant puppets created by members of the Girard Medical Center, a support center for men struggling with homelessness and addiction. Members of the Youth Volunteer Corps “walked” the puppets with the parade, and the drummers of Extreme Creations provided a beat as the parade moved from Paul Robeson House to its end at Clark Park.
Our own group was excited to find handmade costumes created by the folks at Spriral Q. Youth and staff wore these bright costumes across West Philly, donning bird masks, wings of cardboard, as well as three-tiered cloth capes mimicking feathers. The costumes encouraged us to feel truly part of the parade and literally see ourselves as part of a diverse and creative social justice movement. At Clark Park we took off our costumes, not only returning to being humans, but people within a community fighting for positive change.