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ST. PHILIP’S COLLEGE’S OLDEST ALUMNA

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SAN ANTONIO (May 17, 2019)—At 121-year-old St. Philip’s College, 105-year-old Gertha Murphy is considered a special person on the timeline.

Murphy is the granddaughter of a former U.S. slave and a 1936 alumna of a college that was originated in 1898 for the daughters of former U.S. slaves.

She went far with her degree, and she is also an A-plus inspiration to students, hard workers and activists of all ages.

In addition to graduating from St. Philip’s College, Murphy worked in civil service for 27 years and became an alumna of Incarnate Word University when she was 60 and graduated in 1980 with a degree in early education.

A fixture at SPC homecoming events for her status and her achievements, St. Philip’s College ceremonially honors Murphy in real-time on May 20 at noon in the Artemisia Bowden Alumni Center on the third floor of the college’s G. J. Sutton Learning Center at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive.

The RSVP-to-attend event features complimentary admission and parking. Email RSVPs to scrockett-bell@alamo.edu or voicemail to (210) 486-2887 this weekend. The event that starts at noon will start slowing down at about 1 p.m., when guests and media can talk with Murphy from 1-1:15 p.m.

Murphy received her first college degree when she graduated from the 121-year-old college in 1936 and is currently 105 years of age. She has seen every one of the college’s presidents and is aware that she is the oldest living alumna of the oldest college in the Alamo College’s District system—the first system to earn the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The event will be part of ongoing SPC efforts to express “Our Win is Your Win” to the community it serves.

Murphy was in the news in 2017 as a guest during San Antonio Housing Authority’s ribbon cutting ceremonies in celebration of the first phase of East Meadows, a $41.7 million development containing 215 apartments that is successfully nearing completion. Through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, the Wheatley Courts became a part of a community-wide revitalization effort started in 2012 to transform the Eastside of San Antonio into a viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhood. St. Philip’s College is the original educational partner in the project and Murphy is among college alumni who were former residents of the Spartan original property that served generations from the start of tenant operations in 1941 until it was vacated in 2014 and demolished in 2015. East Meadows’ first phase, a $41.7 million development containing 215 apartments, was built where the old Wheatley Courts public housing complex of more than 400 units existed at 906 N. Mittman St. near the St. Philip’s College campus for 65 years. The new development is a step toward transforming the surrounding neighborhood into a new master-planned, safe, sustainable, energy-efficient, mixed-income community, with a fairer share of the area’s higher-quality schools, health care, transportation, and access to jobs. The area is now among the top ten fasted gentrifying properties in the nation. According to a 2017 news report, 103 year old Gerta Murphy lived at Wheatley Courts until the mid-1950s. “When they opened Wheatley Courts, it was so exciting. As soon as I got a job, I moved out. I hope they take good care of it because they are beautiful,” Murphy told reporters at the time.

Marsha Hall is the assistant to Dr. Adena Williams Loston who is the president of the college that honors Murphy on May 20.

“She went back to college and started a new career teaching Pre-K for Harlandale ISD for six years. That’s a testament to her capacity to serve. She moves and does what she wants to do at 105. She is a powerhouse,” said Hall.  

According to articles by San Antonio Express-News writer Vincent Davis, “Murphy is among a select, but growing, group of people worldwide — they have celebrated their 100th birthday. The offspring of parents born in the 1800s, they have witnessed the world evolve from horse-drawn buggies to rockets soaring in space to pocket-size computers called smartphones…. Murphy’s mother was 107 when she died; two aunts were 94 and 101. “Longevity is given by the Lord, it’s up to him to determine how long you’re going to live,” Murphy says. “He’s looking down on me and blessing me.” “

Murphy also enjoys virtual and physical lifestyles, and would fit in as an online student at the college today if she so chose.

This lifestyle was once described in an archival San Antonio Express News report, “Murphy does geriatric aerobics twice a week at the YMCA. She shops at the grocery store, cooks for herself, eats chicken, fish and many vegetables. In her spare time, she sends emails, and she has a Facebook account… “If you settle into getting old and start shrinking back and not trying to learn things, you stop growing,” Murphy says.

Archival Image courtesy SPC)

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Be Counted and Be Heard Comedy Show

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Be Counted and Be Heard Comedy Show to encourage African Americans in our community to get counted in the 2020 Census

The Dream Big Scholarship Fund, in collaboration with the San Antonio/Bexar County Complete Count Committee, will host the Be Counted and Be Heard Comedy Show this Sunday, Sept. 27, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the AT&T Center parking lot. The goal of the comedy show will be to encourage African American residents of San Antonio and Bexar County to respond to the 2020 Census before next week’s deadline on Sept. 30.   

“It’s imperative that the African American community understand the impact that they can make by letting their voices be heard and getting counted in the 2020 census is one way to be heard,” stated Michele Thomas founder of the Dream Big Scholarship Fund. 

The show’s program will be hosted by 25-year United States Army Combat veteran and aspiring gospel singer Thomas B. Bryant. The program  will feature “Funniest Person in South Texas” finalist, Comedian Clifton Simmons. Headlining the comedy show will be Comedian Marcus D. Wiley from the Yolanda Adams Morning Show. While providing entertainment, these trusted voices will share information about why completing the 2020 Census is important to our communities.   

Multiple organizations such as The 100 Black Men of San Antonio, Psi Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. have pledged their support and resources to the event to ensure a complete count of the community.

The open-air event will be held in Parking Lot 3 at the AT&T Center. To ensure physical distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19, all activities will allow participants to stay in their vehicles. Attendees can enjoy the comedy show from the comfort and safety of their cars, as well as fill out the census form on their own mobile device or on tablets which volunteers will bring to each vehicle.  

The event will be live-streamed on Dream Big Scholarship Fund’s Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/dreambigscholarshipfund) and participants can complete the questionnaire at home and register to win gift card prizes. The census can be completed online at my2020census.gov or by calling 1.844.330.2020. Time is running out, be heard and get counted now!

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Sickle Cell Awareness Month

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September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, designated by Congress to help focus attention on the need for research and treatment of sickle cell disease.

SCD is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In someone who has Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle”. The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, when they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such as infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke.

In the United States

The exact number of people living with SCD in the U.S. is unknown. Working with partners, the CDC supports projects to learn about the number of people living with SCD to better understand how the disease impacts their health.

It is estimated that:

  • SCD affects approximately 100,000 Americans.
  • SCD occurs among about 1 out of every 365 Black or African-American births.
  • SCD occurs among about 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic-American births.
  • About 1 in 13 Black or African-American babies is born with sickle cell trait (SCT)

SCDAA’s theme for this year is Sickle Cell Matters. Sickle Cell Awareness Month Flyers, Myths & Facts Sheet, Calendar of Events as well as other vital information can be found by visiting https://www.sicklecelldisease.org/ People can share in awareness efforts or join SCDAA at one of the many great events to support sickle cell awareness!

Everyone is encouraged to be a part of this national effort to increase awareness about sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait during the month of September. Individuals and organizations can join the efforts to bring attention to sickle cell disease by engaging elected officials for proclamations, hosting awareness events, distributing educational information to dispel the myths about sickle cell disease, and lighting public spaces, buildings and landmarks red (burgundy)!

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Another Blow Dealt: Charges Not Directly Linked To Victim Breonna Taylor

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Residents of Louisville, Kentucky along with spectators across the world have waited for more than six months with anticipation for the verdict in the Breonna Taylor case. Anticipation has been boiling so much so that city and state officials began preparing days ago for uncertainty in the event that protests and riots could potentially break out once the verdict was read. The Kentucky National Guard and state police were called in and a 72-hour countywide curfew has been enacted. Once again there is further division, unrest, and lack of trust in another American city as clashes have already began to erupt in the streets of Louisville.

The verdict is in and the long-awaited grand jury charges are as follows. Only one former police officer, Brett Hankinson, was indicted on three felony counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. In a nutshell, the other two officers will face no charges and the charges Hankinson faces are not directly related to the wrongful death of Breonna Taylor, but rather his reckless action of “wantonly shooting a gun” into an apartment (not Breonna’s). First-degree wanton endangerment is a Class D felony, the lowest of four classes of felonies, the maximum sentence is five years; the minimum is one year.

Last week an announcement was made by the city of Louisville that a $12 million settlement had been reached with the family of Breonna Taylor. Continued prayers for the family of Breonna Taylor and the city of Louisville.

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