A public interest folklore practice gives us the ability to acknowledge that, as Gerald Davis once said, “we have been slow to plumb our own experiences.” It also provides us with the tools to step outside of ourselves, catch a glimpse of the world around us, and realize that, in the words of Anais Nin, "we do not necessarily see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
At the Philadelphia Folklore Project (PFP), we stand with the Black Lives Matter protesters and those who seek justice for Breonna Taylor, LaShanda Anderson, George Floyd, Antwon Rose, Brandon Tate Brown, Ahmaud Arbery, Khalil Lawal, Eric Garner, Tony McDade, and countless Black lives taken by racist violence. We are committed to amplifying Black voices, words, and wisdom—from which we draw both strength and direction—and we see it as our responsibility to fight with Black communities against the daily violence of systemic racism.
Founded in 1987 as an anti-racist social justice project, PFP continues to be an organization committed to developing awareness, empathy, and community-driven sustainability via the creativity and lived experiences of 2.9 million Philadelphians, more than half of whom are people of color. Recognized as the poorest large city in our nation, Philadelphia’s resources for cultural production—vital to community health—are not equitably distributed across our community. This is not acceptable.
We are devoted to changing the landscape in terms of access and investment in community infrastructure, building power and possibilities in the cultural life of our city. In particular, we focus on folklife—diverse vernacular traditions, local knowledge, and cultural heritage—as an often-overlooked resource for powerful social change and community well-being. Folklife involves everything from the way Philadelphians artistically transform their porches, stoops, and streets to how people creatively agitate for social change through music or protest. We believe that community-led social movements are advanced by access to, and critical analysis of, people-generated traditions and practices occurring locally. Folklife in action will always be one of the chief means communities have to represent their own realities in the face of powerful institutions.
Our work is not about us. It is about clearing the way and creating platforms for community voices to be heard. We believe that the work of anti-racism begins at home. As such, PFP is committed to enacting our values:
1) operating with policies, practices, attitudes, and actions that produce equitable power, access, opportunities, treatment, impacts, and outcomes for all
2) intentionally maintaining a diverse staff and board that are representative of the demographics we serve.
We are thus proudly guided by our community partners in this essential transformative work. We are unwavering in our mission to help build a Philadelphia that is anti-racist, inclusive, and equitable.