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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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SAAAACF Report Underscores Inequity in San Antonio

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Groundbreaking study offers in-depth look at the state of the local African American community

SAN ANTONIO — The local African American community continues to face a significant challenge in closing socioeconomic opportunity gaps as reflected by leading social indicators, according to a new study.

The groundbreaking new report, State of the African American Community in San Antonio and Bexar County, is a joint effort by the San Antonio Area Foundation (SAAFdn) and the San Antonio Area African American Community Fund (SAAAACF). It paints a thorough picture of how much work remains to be done to level the playing field for the local Black community – though recent initiatives are striving to reverse the trend.

We’re all well aware of the fact that our beloved city does suffer from socioeconomic disparity and this extensive report reflects this reality when it comes to the African American community

Marjie French

“We’re all well aware of the fact that our beloved city does suffer from socioeconomic disparity and this extensive report reflects this reality when it comes to the African American community,” said Marjie French, CEO of the Area Foundation. “That’s why we’re supporting nonprofits that address these challenges in order to help create a community where everyone has a chance to succeed.”

Toward that goal, the new community-led study – research conducted by Community Information Now – serves as a clarion call for all of us to think more about how we can help our fellow neighbors in need, said Bobby Blount, Chairman of the SAAAACF Board of Directors.

“This report does more than validate what most of us know: African Americans face many challenges in our community,” Blount said. “It provides a foundation for everyone to understand, discuss and take action to improve the livelihood of San Antonians.”

The research was based on various societal focus areas, selected by a 20-member community advisory committee. Some key findings:

• Population: African Americans comprise seven percent of Bexar County; about 20 percent of African Americans are military veterans; in about half of Black households where grandparents live with their minor grandchildren, those grandparents are raising their grandchildren.

• Housing: African Americans have the lowest rate of home ownership (41 percent); more than one-third (37 percent) of Black mortgage applicants are denied; overrepresentation in public housing (20 percent of all HUD-subsidized households).

• Education: Majority of Black students attend Judson ISD, Northside ISD and Northeast ISD; among all districts and charters, there’s overrepresentation in disciplinary alternative programs and out-of-school suspensions as well as in special education programs; underrepresentation in gifted and talented programs and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

• Finance: African Americans have a lower median income ($48,509) than the county average ($57,157); nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of work-eligible African Americans are in the workforce; they are more likely than the county workforce overall to be unemployed (seven percent).

• Business: Only one percent of San Antonio-New Braunfels metro area businesses with paid staff and five percent of solo-run businesses are Black-owned.

• Health: About one in six (17 percent) working-age African Americans does not have health insurance and are also more likely to have medical debt in collections.

• Criminal justice: African Americans are overrepresented in police arrests as well as in criminal court cases; Blacks – along with Latinos – are the least to be released in cite and release cases for some misdemeanor offenses.

• Social connection: Majority of African Americans (83 percent) have broadband access but still trail other racial/ethnic groups; San Antonio is home to more than 200 Black churches with an average membership of 120 parishioners (excluding megachurches); about six percent of African Americans moved here from another Texas county or out of state.
The advisory committee, led by Blount, consulted with nonprofit advocacy organization Texas Appleseed to develop various policy recommendations to address the inequities highlighted in the report. Among the recommendations:

• Implement alternative methods of traffic law enforcement, including standardizing collection of metrics based on race and ethnicity.

• Invest in public defense to ensure those unable to retain counsel receive equal representation within the criminal justice system.

• Expand eligibility requirements for early education programs in order to enable Black children to be more kindergarten-ready.

• Create more opportunities for Black students to access Advanced Placement courses and gifted and talented programs.

• Expand paid internships as well as outreach programs to increase African American young adult participation in the workforce.

• Make more resources available and lift barriers impeding access to credit in order to increase financial stability for low-income African American households.

• Expand lending and support services to Black small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Though the new report leaves no doubt as to the tremendous challenge ahead, SAAFdn and SAAAACF are not sitting idle. A renewed focus on equity and social justice have led to the creation of strong and effective initiatives meant to close the opportunity gaps identified in the study. Some examples:

• Creation of the SAAAACF Social Justice Fund providing bail and legal aid to those facing low-level offenses.

• SAAFdn teaming up with UP Partnership on implementing Blue Meridian national funding leading to Youth Leadership Development and Workforce Development grants to nonprofits primarily focused on helping communities of color.

• SAAFdn supporting the Corporate Partners for Racial Equity coalition formed by top San Antonio business executives contributing more than $13 million into programs on equitable education, economic opportunities and social justice.

• SAAFdn partnership with the City of San Antonio/Metro Health providing grants to address health disparities exacerbated by the pandemic.

• SAAFdn launching its first-ever San Antonio Equity Fellowship Program, a unique professional development program to champion and help grow nonprofit leaders of color.

• SAAFdn partnering with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) on the Leading To Change: Building Equity In Community Program focusing on equitable outcomes on affordable housing.

The report concludes with first-person “community voices” essays featuring local African American experts weighing in on the social indicators examined – each voice poignantly bringing to life the somber significance of the statistics. They are: Dr. Gary Bates, Dr. Adena Williams Loston, Ken Lowe, Dr. Travis Batts, Douglas Greene, Darryl E. Harris, Dr. Kenneth R. Kemp and Deborah Omowale Johnson.

Omowale Johnson, CEO and Director of the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum, issued a critical reminder that the local Black community’s relatively small size doesn’t make it any less part of the diverse fabric of our great city.

“The Black community making up 7% of Bexar County may seem at first to be an insignificant group of people,” Omowale Johnson wrote. “However, if the community does not collectively recognize the impact of these statistics, the economic segregation gap will widen.”


About the San Antonio Area Foundation:
The San Antonio Area Foundation (SAAFdn) has served as the city’s community-giving headquarters for nearly 60 years, growing to become one of the top 20 community foundations in the nation. The Area Foundation helps donors achieve their charitable goals supporting our community’s greatest needs, managing more than 500 charitable funds nearly $1 billion in assets. Beyond serving hundreds of nonprofit organizations every year through training and grantmaking, where total impact exceeded $71 million in 2020, the Area Foundation operates a strong student scholarship program. Over $37 million has been invested in our future leaders since 1969 through more than 100 scholarship funds. Learn more at saafdn.org.

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Community

MLK Day of Service

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Alpha Tau Omega Chapter, San Antonio’s local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated celebrated the Sorority’s 114th Founding Anniversary with a day on and not a day off. For this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. service project they hosted a Community-wide Food and Winter Items Drive. Members collected can goods, non-perishable items, winter wear clothing (hoodies, gloves, jackets, etc.), and blankets. The ladies braved the cold and withstood the windy gusts Saturday morning. Their work was not in vain as they continue to be a service to all mankind.

Thanks to the donations from chapter members and the community, several hundred pounds of food as well as winter wear was collected and will be donated to support the San Antonio Food Bank and homeless street outreach efforts in San Antonio.

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Nation’s Largest MLK March Cancelled

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Due to the current influx of omicron cases in and around San Antonio, the city’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. March has been cancelled. The event was previously scheduled to take place on January 17th, but concerns for public safety and continued presence of the virus on the route led to its cancellation.

The MLK board met and made the decision Thursday night. The board will decide what they plan to include in next Monday’s meeting.

Renee Watson, who is the chairperson of the Martin Luther King march, says that COVID-19 testing will be available together with vaccine shots at Pittman Sullivan Park.

As of Thursday afternoon, the most recent update from DreamWeek says their events are still on but their plans are impromptu.

The in-person event, which had been held every year since 1987, was changed to a virtual event in 2020 at the start of the pandemic.

After over 20,000 diagnoses cases from the first week of the year, it makes sense to cancel a show for safety reasons.

Nathaniel Davis, past chair of Martin Luther King Junior March, died this week. We are saddened by his loss and extend our condolences to his family during this difficult time.

Stayed tuned to Black Video News for the latest statement and updates.

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