BY: Christopher Norris
The Rev. Gregory Holston, a fiery orator who often laments the various forms of inequality which manifest in Philadelphia, isn’t concerned about alienating city officials with his declaration that white supremacy operates in the institutions here.
“I don’t think anyone will be arguing that Philly doesn’t have issues with white supremacy within its institutions,” he stated.
A North Philadelphia pastor who currently serves as the Executive Director of P.O.W.E.R, an interfaith, racial justice coalition, Rev. Holston said the use of passive language, like implicit bias and prejudice, has helped mask white supremacy in the city. But the invention of the ‘Philly is Charlottesville’ march, which is organized by P.O.W.E.R and will occur on Wednesday evening, seeks to change that.
“It’s easy to see Charlottesville and decry that. It’s hard to see white supremacy in yourself, and in the institutions, you work in,” the reverend told me by phone on Wednesday morning.
More than a thousand people, including the Democratic nominee for District Attorney of Philadelphia, Mr. Larry Krasner, are expected to attend the march, which has as its starting point a synagogue on (North) Broad & Greene Streets, and which will end with a slate of speakers inside the Arch Street Methodist Church on Broad & Arch Streets.
In between the two aforementioned locations, the demonstrators will stop at the headquarters of the School District of Philadelphia (440 N Broad Street) and then a space adjacent to both City Hall and the controversial statue of Frank Rizzo, which on Wednesday morning now has a police barricade surrounding it due to it being defaced and threats that it, like a statue in Durham, North Carolina, will be toppled by anti-racism and anti-fascist protesters.
When nearby the statue tonight, Rev. Holston said white supremacy in policing will be declared. More specifically, the City’s stop-and-frisk practice is inherently based on a system of white supremacy, he said. By stopping African-Americans at a far greater number than their White counterparts, the reverend argues that Philadelphia is “putting White people in a superior position.”
“We have to dismantle white supremacy in every place… and every black leader in this city has to dismantle white supremacy.”
Despite the uptick in violence around the country, Rev. Holston and his fellow clergymen and women remain committed to promoting racial justice through nonviolent action. Asked whether he’s concerned about counter-protesters tonight, the reverend said there’s always a concern about opposition – we’ve been at war in this country for quite a while, he suggested – but precautions for safety have been taken.
“Philadelphians should feel safe participating in this march,” he said.