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11:43 PM / Saturday November 26, 2022

7 Oct 2022

The Philadelphia Legacies Portrait Awards Dinner honors six local icons

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October 7, 2022 Category: Local Posted by:

Six Philadelphia icons will be honored for their outstanding contributions at the “Seventh Annual Philadelphia Legacies Portrait Awards,” at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 9 at the Calabash Banquet Hall, 6208 Lancaster Avenue. 

Founded in 2016 by Stephen Satell, author and founder of the Bridging Worlds Mentor Program, the Philadelphia Legacies program strives to preserve the memory of those who have contributed to the City of Philadelphia, perpetuate their contributions, and provide a forum for intergenerational leaders to discuss solutions to Philadelphia’s most pressing problems.

With its educational programs and tours, Philadelphia Legacies also promotes the city’s history throughout the year.

The portraits of this year’s honorees were created by local artists Damon Bain, Laurie Cooper, Terrell Johnson, Taqiy Muhammad, and LaReine Nixon.

The 2022 portrait awardees are:

∙ Rev. Dr. Lorina Marshall Blake, president of Independence Blue Cross Foundation and associate pastor, Vine Memorial Baptist Church. 

∙ Jeff Brown, philanthropist and chairman/CEO of Brown’s Super Stores. 

∙ Glenn Bryan, University of Pennsylvania assistant vice president of community relations and noted keyboard artist. Bryan will receive a special Lifetime Achievement Award.

 ∙ Dr. Nikki Franke, recently retired Temple University fencing coach and two-time U.S. Fencing  Association Olympic champion. 

∙ Frank Green, Jr., tennis coach and businessman who coached his daughter Traci Green, head women’s tennis coach at Harvard University and son Frank Green, III, a pro tennis coach, making them tennis champions.. 

∙ Robert Kenyatta, legendary master percussionist, Grammy-award winner, teacher and healer. 

Philadelphia Legacies also recognizes four community leaders each year for their efforts to improve their communities and the city. The 2022 Philadelphia Legacies Community Leader Award will be presented to: 

∙ Jay Bagley, Temple University adjunct physics professor and president of Black Contractors Coalition Association

 ∙ Charlotte Greer-Brown, youth empowerment and violence prevention community activist 

∙ Abu Edwards, community and political activist 

∙ Mecca Robinson, youth mentor and founder/CEO of Forget Me Knot Children and Youth Services

The 2022 “Young Person to Watch” is Philadelphia NAACP youth activist Zymir Brunson.

 A portion of proceeds from this annual awards dinner goes to Philadelphia-based nonprofit organizations such as House of Umoja, Moonstone Arts Center, The Veterans Group, and the National Federation of Black Veterans Network. 

The first Legacies Awards received great support from former Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell and former Philadelphia Mayor W. Wilson Goode, who both attended. 

Past portrait awardees include historian and bibliophile, Charles Blockson; House of Umoja founder, Queen Mother Falaka Fattah; physician and businessman, Dr. Walter Lomax; educator Dr. Ruth Wright-Hayre; Coach John Chaney; broadcast pioneer Trudy Haynes; journalist Acel Moore; Coach Tina Sloan-Green; basketball champion Wilt Chamberlain; astronomer Derrick Pitts; literary artist Sam Delaney; broadcaster Cody Anderson; artist Cal Massey and jazz saxophonist Robert “Bootsie” Barnes, among many others. 

Rev. Dr. Lorina Marshall Blake

REV. DR. LORINA MARSHALL BLAKE

The Rev. Dr. Lorina Marshall Blake has been working to uplift people for decades through her work as president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation and vice president of community affairs at  Independence Blue Cross.

 In her role at the foundation, she leads strategic efforts to fulfill its mission to develop and promote sustainable solutions to improve the health and wellness of the community. While overseeing the distribution of grants, Marshall-Blake has led the foundation to be a collaborator, innovator, convener of diverse organizations, and thought leader in addressing the emerging health needs of communities in southeastern Pennsylvania. As vice president of community affairs at Independence, she develops and manages relationships with community partners to advance its social mission efforts.  

Her love for and dedication to helping people led Marshall-Blake to the ministry many years ago and the opportunity to heal people in other ways. As associate minister at Vine Memorial Baptist Church, she is devoted to her church and is passionate about giving back to the community.  

In addition to the ministry and her work with Independence Blue Cross, Marshall-Blake is actively involved in more than 30 professional and civic organizations including the Anti-Defamation League, United Negro College Fund and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. where she served as 28th president of the Omega Omega Chapter. The Rev. Dr. Lorina Marshall Blake is a proud  Philadelphian who is truly committed to serving and healing the people — body and soul.

Jeffrey Brown

JEFFREY BROWN

Jeff Brown, CEO of Brown’s Super Stores, Inc., came into the business honestly. Owning grocery stores is a tradition in his family. He began working in his father’s and grandfather’s grocery stores at an early age and learned the business from the ground up before developing his own successful stores in 1988. Brown’s Super Stores currently operates 10 ShopRite supermarkets and two Fresh Grocer supermarkets in the Delaware Valley. Brown’s is a family operation, with his wife Sandy working behind the scenes as director of branding, public relations and social media. 

An astute businessman, Brown is a perfect example of finding successful ways of making it work in underserved communities known as food deserts. Jeff and Sandy were guests of former First Lady Michelle Obama at then-President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address in recognition of his work solving the food desert crisis. 

Brown actively works with unions to ensure that his employees have competitive, living wages. He listens to his customers and provides clean, fully-stocked stores in areas where the food available was substandard and overpriced. Brown found ways to buy food cheaper and provide high-quality food at a fair price. His stores carry a variety of diverse ethnic foods that cater to the needs of each community where his stores are located. Have a new product? Brown’s Business Incubator will help promote your product with an in-store pop-up or placement on the shelves. He’s also committed to supporting minority entrepreneurs by carrying their products. 

Brown hires from the community and believes in giving people a second chance. He trains, hires and promotes ex-offenders who often have difficulty obtaining meaningful employment. Philadelphia Business Journal declared Brown’s Super Stores as one of “The Best Places to Work” for several consecutive years. Brown also has formed partnerships to provide the community with access to health centers and banking services inside of his stores. 

The Browns are known throughout the Philadelphia region as sincere, compassionate philanthropists.  His nonprofit, UPLIFT, gives food to those in need and he rarely refuses requests for donations from community organizations. 

Glenn D. Bryan

GLENN D. BRYAN 

For almost 30 years, Glenn D. Bryan has served as vice president of community relations at the University of Pennsylvania. A West Philadelphia native and Penn alumni, Bryan has been responsible for  connecting the Penn Ivy Tower with the Philadelphia community.

When Penn’s relationship with the surrounding communities was at its lowest point, Bryan organized the First Thursday Meetings as a formal mechanism for speaking with the community. The monthly meeting brings together over 100 community leaders, civic organizations, nonprofits and elected officials to provide information regarding Penn and the community, and to discuss problems and issues that arise.

Bryan has focused on economic inclusion and how Penn can enhance the economic climate of the surrounding area through hiring local residents, purchasing, working with local businesses and those owned by people of color and women. He calls it effective, sustainable local engagement. 

Additionally, Bryan is a well-known keyboard artist and bandleader who has been playing since he was 9 years old. Classically trained, he plays all types of music, including jazz, Latin-influenced, rhythm & blues, rock, and other genres. He’s performed with the likes of John McLaughlin, Grover Washington Jr., Carlos Santana, George Duke, Dave Koz, Freddie Hubbard, Diane Reeves, Spencer Harrison, Boni James and others. 

 Bryan believes that music is the universal language of all people, and plays not for the love of money,  but just for the art. Whether he’s bringing people together at the First Thursday Meetings or a musical performance, the people are listening and Bryan is getting it done. 

Dr. Nikki Franke

DR. NIKKI FRANKE 

As a young girl growing up in Harlem, Nikki Franke was focused on her dream of becoming a health teacher. At the time, she didn’t know she would go on to become the first African American woman to coach an  NCAA fencing team. As a teen, Franke played tennis, basketball and volleyball, and took up fencing as a high school senior when a teacher brought the sport to her school. She attended Brooklyn College to fence under influential coach Denise O’Connor and the rest is history. At Brooklyn College, she became an All-American and graduated in 1972. O’Connor told her about an opportunity at Temple University to develop the Owls’  fencing program, and receive a master’s in health education while continuing to compete nationally and internationally. She won her first national championship at the 1975 Pan Am Games where she won a silver medal in the individual foil competition and a bronze medal in the 1979 games. 

 While an active member of the U.S. National Fencing Team, Franke earned a master’s degree in public health at Temple in 1975 and a doctorate in 1988. In 1978, she became a full-time faculty member while building the team. The most successful women’s athletics coach at Temple of all time, Franke led the team to 898 wins, including the 1992 NCAA Championship. 

Temple had a winning record in 48 of Franke’s 50 years as coach. Perennially ranked in the Top 10 in the nation, she guided the team to 26 consecutive National  Intercollegiate Women’s Fencing Association Championships. 

Franke is in four Halls of Fame and will be inducted into her fifth when she enters the Philadelphia  Sports Hall of Fame in November. She is a member of the International Sports Hall of Fame and the  Temple Athletics Hall of Fame with the 1992 National Champion Fencing Team. Franke has also been  inducted into the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame as an individual, the US Fencing Association Hall of Fame,  and the Brooklyn College Hall of Fame. She also received the United States Fencing Coaches Association  Women’s Fencing Coach of the Year honors in 1983, 1987, 1988, and 1991.

Franke also co-founded the Black Women in Sport Foundation, a non-profit that promotes Black women  and girls’ participation in all areas of sports, along with Tina Sloan Green, Alpha Alexander, and Linda Greene. Franke announced her retirement from Temple in August.  

Frank Green Jr,

FRANK GREEN, JR. 

Frank Green, Jr., who is a Tuskegee University Hall of Famer, has used his expertise in math and statistics to successfully coach both his daughter Traci and son Frankie to become accomplished tennis champions. Both have followed in their father’s footsteps as tennis coaches. 

Daughter Traci Green went on to become a member of the U.S. Junior National Team and the University of Florida Gators National Championship Team. She is now head women’s tennis coach at Harvard University – the first African American woman to hold that position. His son Frank Green, III, was ranked as high as #2 in U.S. Tennis Association Middle States and #8  in the nation. He also won four national championships in singles and one in doubles. As a Division I player at Florida A&M University, he was the 2006 Conference Player of the Year. He is now a professional tennis coach who has coached several national champions.

In 1993, Green, Jr. became good friends with Richard Williams, father of tennis phenoms Venus and  Serena, after meeting the family during an event at Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis Center in Philadelphia. The  Green family showed them around the city and hosted them during their visit. Williams was looking to get his girls into competitions and sought advice from Green, who had already made that move with Traci. The two men hit it off and kept in touch over the years. 

 In addition to being a businessman, Green has always put his family first and is its backbone. Aside from coaching and guiding his children’s tennis careers, he held down a full-time job as advertising director and columnist for the award-winning Philadelphia New Observer newspaper for many years. Green also supported his wife, Tina Sloan Green, in her position as head coach of Temple University’s championship women’s lacrosse team and co-founder of the Black Women in Sports Foundation. In spite of his  accomplishments, the title most important to Frank Green, Jr. is a family man. 

ROBERT “ROGIE” KENYATTA 

Robert “Rogie” Kenyatta, the son of beloved community activist and entrepreneur Lillia “Mom” Crippens, was raised in the Richard Allen Homes neighborhood of North Philadelphia. A master percussionist, he heeded the call of the African drums as a young child and started out drumming on Mom’s oatmeal boxes, then graduated to pots and pans. A naturally-gifted musician with a good ear, even then he  noticed that each pot had its own sound, its own voice. Kenyatta, — or Rogie, as he’s known among musicians and in the  community — bought his first conga drum at age 12 with money he earned returning soda bottles to the store for a  deposit. He joined his first drum group and began drumming with drummer John Wilkie as teens at Thomas Edison High School, where Kenyatta was known for practicing in the bathroom. He began his formal teaching and professional career at 15. A few years later Kenyatta was touring with Wilson Pickett and the Beach Boys. He reunited with the Beach Boys in 2010 for Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s “Thank You” party. 

Kenyatta continued to study percussion styles from throughout the African Diaspora and learned by listening to Latino and jazz radio stations, and sitting in with different bands. He also played the penny whistle and received a grant from the Model Cities Program to study the flute, harmony and theory at the Philadelphia  Music Academy. Kenyatta was also a sought-after studio musician. Through the decades, he has worked with John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Johnny Hartman, The O’Jays, Marvin Gaye, Ruth Brown, Billy Paul, The Intruders, Herbie Mann, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and many others.

One of the highlights of Kenyatta’s career is playing percussion on Coltrane’s last album, which was recorded on November 11, 1966, live at Temple University’s Mitten Hall. “Offering: Live at Temple University,” was released by Resonance Records on September 23, 2014, won a Grammy Award and was well-received by critics. 

Between shows, Kenyatta taught nearly 300 drummers, with experience levels ranging from novice to professional. He has touched the lives of hundreds of local students as a popular teacher at the Philadelphia Arts and Education Partnership. Kenyatta also offers a free drum class for students and the community on Saturdays at Temple University, teaching the framework of successful drumming. He is a consummate performer, is a master storyteller and has researched the stories from the African Diaspora which he incorporates into his performances. 

 A positive soul who spreads the light, he is also known as Papa  Kenyatta —  a shaman, master herbalist and healer — who uses the soothing, healing power of the drums and his calming presence as therapy for troubled youth and Alzheimer’s patients, among others. 

 After spending several decades of his life teaching percussion and performing in groups, Rogie has  moved on to being a solo performer, with the 2011 release of his first solo CD, “Kenyatta’s Dance: A Tribute to Mom and Dad.”  

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