SUMR Tours Constitution Center, African American Museum & Reading Terminal Market

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SUMR Tours Constitution Center, African American Museum & Reading Terminal Market

Photo Page of 2018 Cohort's Center City R&R Break From Serious Research Projects and Studies
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One of the main attractions in the University of Pennsylvania Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) scholars' vist to the National Constitution Center and two other sites was Signers Hall (above). That gallery is a recreation of the September, 1787 gathering in Independence Hall of the 39 delegates who signed the U.S. Constitution. The display is peopled by life-sized bronze sculptures of those men who created the 231-year-old American system of federal government. SUMR scholars get up close behind one group of signers gathered around a seated Benjamin Franklin who is frozen in the act of making a point. Sponsored by LDI and the Wharton School Health Care Management Department, the annual three-month long SUMR program is aimed at underrepresented minority undergraduates and others interested in exploring potential careers in the field of health services research (HSR). Weekend trips to local historical and cultural centers help break up their intensive studies and daily research work with the Penn faculty members who are their mentors.
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The SUMR excurison began with lunch at Philadelphia's famed Reading Terminal Market (above, left) at 12th and Arch Streets. Covering an entire city block, the 125-year-old open-stall market was once the bottom level of the 19th-century Reading Railroad terminal building. Today, the trains are long gone and the market is part of the Pennsylvania Convention Center complex even as it maintains the industial feel of an earlier age. Gathered in one of its block-long aisles of food and produce vendors (above, left) are SUMR scholars Christine Olagun-Samuel of Penn, Ayomide Ojebuoboh of Boston University, SPUR scholar Sydney Bell of Penn Wharton, SUMR scholars Tania Calle of Williams College, Tolu Omole of Arizona State University, Audrey Fretzin of Penn Nursing, and Mohamed Abdirisak of Indiana University.
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Somewhere near the center of the place is its mascot, Philbert the Pig, a bronze sculpture (above, left) by Eric Berg, a Wharton School-trained economist who went back to Penn to study art and became the sculptor he is today. His Philbert is a kind of piggy bank. It sits on a large glass box that solicits donations for the Philadelphia Food Trust that operates two dozen fresh produce stands in low-income neighborhoods throughout the region. Above, right, purusing an aisle of gourmet candy vendors are SUMR Scholars Ayomide Ojebuoboh and Christine Olagun-Samuel.
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Something like a gastronomical carnival, the Reading Terminal Market at 12th and Arch Streets features city-block-long rows of tables (above, left) that are often jammed nearly shoulder-to-shoulder with diners seven days a week as both tourists and locals eschew nearby chain restaurants for this historical site's unique atmosphere and enormous variety of fresh foods. Above, right, SUMR Scholars Alec Hilton of Washington University in St. Louis and Christine Olagun-Samuel along with SPUR Scholar Sydney Bell nosh their way past Profi's Creperies. Marked with a neon sign featuring the Eiffel Towner, the crepe stall hypes itself as "A Little Taste of France in Philadelphia."
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Next stop on the outing was the architecturally magnificent National Constitution Center on Independence Mall. It has three main levels; the middle one features a massive glass wall that looks out across the green (above, left) to Independence Hall in the distance. Above, right getting acquainted with the ground floor are Tolu Omole, Sydney Bell, Zara Wermers of Tufts University, Ayomide Ojebuoboh, Christine Olagun-Samuel (partially hidden), William Jackson of the University of Kentucky, Alec Hilton, Amanda Carrillo-Perez of Swarthmore College, Mohamed Abdirisak, Tania Calle, Nahnsan Guseh of Syracuse University, and Fatoumata Barry of Spelman College.
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The third floor of the Constitution Center is a gigantic donut-shaped space that is thick with equally large interactive displays and entertainments that explain and discuss the Constitution. The entire exhibit is called "We the People" for reasons SUMR Scholars Zara Wermers, Tania Calle, Alec Hilton and Amanda Carrillo-Perez read about (above, right) at one of the gallery's dozens of interactive displays.
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At the center is the Sidney Kimmel Theater that presents "Freedom Rising," a 17-minute actor and multimedia performance telling the story of the founding of American system of democracy. Out in the display area (above, right), Fatoumata Barry interacts with a kiosk that traces the story of the life and times of Paul Robeson, the American musician, actor and political activist.
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In one part of "We the People" is a highly detailed model of the U.S. Capitol Building (above, left). In a nearby spot that details Presidential history, visitors are invited to try out the official podium. SUMR Scholar Christine Olagun-Samuel finds it to be a good fit.
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The third and final stop on the tour was the African American Museum of Philadelphia at 7th and Arch Streets. It's "Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia" exhibit is a multimedia experience that explores the history of the city's African American population during the century from 1776 to 1876. Sponsored by PECO, the presentation provides a richly textured narrative and new insights on how free blacks protected their own and built businesses, churches and social organizations that were the pillars of their community.
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In another of the museum's four galleries SUMR Scholars strolled through a maze of life-size, talking videos kiosks (above, left) to where they could ask questions and get answers from some of 18th-century Philadelphia's most important African American historical figures. Above, right, in a third floor gallery devoted exclusively to art exhibits, SUMR Scholars got to see works, like this one, by Lavett Ballard who creates "fence shrines." Ballard explains, "I have touched the lost African ancestry of (the photos in these shrine works) by adorning the faces with tribal markings, regal accessories, precious metal tones, and a color palette that is often associated with royalty in different parts of the world."
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As they ended their tour, the SUMR Scholars gathered for a photo op in front of the massive "E-Val Series" creations by Russell Craig that dominates the museum art gallery. These are images of dried cows' blood and paint on acrylic canvas. The artist writes that he was inspired by his own experiences as a child growing up in group foster care where he was given Rorschach psychological evaluation tests and asked to discuss what he thought such images meant.
(l to r) Nahnsan Guseh, SUMR Program Coordinator Safa Browne, Sydney Bell, Mohamed Abdirisak, Alec Hilton, William Jackson, Tolu Omole, Christine Olagun-Samuel, Zara Wermers, Audrey Fretzin, Ayomide Ojebuoboh, Tania Calle, Amanda Carrillo-Perez, and Khalida Saalim.