ABOVE PHOTO: NABJ members were present at the memorial the late E. Steven Collins on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at Sharon Baptist Church. Photo / H Michael Hammie
By Denise Clay
On Saturday morning, people coming into the parking lot of the Sharon Baptist Church were met with the sight of a couple of food trucks.
The owner of C&D’s Food Trucks was getting ready to feed the thousands expected to come to the church for the public memorial service for E. Steven Collins, host of “Philly Speaks” on Old School 100.3 and director of urban marketing and external relations for Radio One.
Collins died on Sept. 9. He was 58.
While he declined to give his name, the food truck owner said that he had worked with Collins on his last public appearance for Radio One, a Back-to-School event featuring disc jockey Tom Joyner at The School of the Future on Sept. 6. He remembered him fondly.
PHOTO: Local trombone player Jeff Bradshaw lead the march into the church at the memorial service for the late E. Steven Collins on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at Sharon Baptist Church.
(Photo / H Michael Hammie)
“I had the opportunity to meet him a few times,” he said. “He was a beautifully natured person. He made you feel like you could do anything and do it with finesse.”
People from all over the City of Philadelphia and beyond came to Sharon Baptist to pay their respects to Collins, a longtime radio personality and community activist, in what was a combination of a community rally and a very high end gospel concert.
Among those sharing their talents and their memories of Collins were Joyner, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Chaka Fattah, State Sens. Vincent Hughes and Anthony Hardy Williams, Mayor Michael Nutter, Kenny Gamble, and a host of gospel luminaries including Marvin Sapp, Tye Tribbett and Smokie Norfull and Carol Riddick.
Beginning with a processional that featured Jeff Bradshaw and Brass Heaven and the Mathematics, Civics and Science Charter Sciences Charter School choir, the service featured many of the community groups that Collins championed including Concerned Black Men.
PHOTO: Langston and Rashid Collins speaks about father’s legacy at the memorial for the late E. Steven Collins on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at Sharon Baptist Church.
(Photo / H Michael Hammie)
Joyner and Old School 100.3 personality Dyana Williams served as MCs for the remembrance of an elected official that Philadelphia didn’t know it had.
“Philly is the only city I know of with two mayors,” Joyner said. “E. was one of them. The other was Michael Nutter.”
Nutter, who appointed Collins co-chair of the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy, remembered Collins as a friend who would go the extra mile for his community.
“I don’t know if he knew how to say no,” Nutter said. “He always tried to do more to advance the community.”
“Man’s assignment is to protect the earth and uplift humanity,” Gamble said. “E. Steven Collins fulfilled his assignment.”
Cathy Hughes, CEO of Radio One, announced the formation of a scholarship in Collins’ name at his alma mater Temple University. The scholarship will go to a broadcasting student and will include tuition and mentoring, she said. Comcast and the City of Philadelphia contributed $5,000 a piece during the service.
“Philadelphia has already produced one E. Steven Collins,” she said. “It can do it again.”
That scholarship has its work cut out for it.