Since taking care of Boo, Alderman also provided services for Richards’ two nephews.
She says it’s so sad how many young black men she helps families put into the earth. “It’s a phenomenon, it really is,” she says. Alderman says she’s buried 50 to 60 young male victims of crime in the last few years, and estimates she’s helped lay 200 to rest in the course of her seven-year career.
“They’re anywhere from 17 to 30 [years old],” she says. “All gunshots.”
Malik Aziz is chairman for the National Exhoodus Council and a local activist who has worked to combat youth violence in neighborhoods all over the city. He says that beef between Fifth Street and Seventh Street is a long-standing tradition that has been handed down through generations.
“In the early 1970s, it was Fifth and South versus Seventh and Emily Street,” says Aziz. Young guys dropped the South and Emily Street part, and just say Fifth Street and Seventh Street for shorthand.
“Even though the kids call themselves different things … like ‘this is my crew,’ it’s still the gang mentality,” says Aziz. “You live on Seventh Street and you live on Fifth Street, you’re an enemy.” Gloria’s house on Sixth Street is considered part of Fifth Street crew.
“[Boo] never hung on the corner when he was at my mother’s house,” says Richards. “He would always be with my brother … or in the cellar.”
On the day that Boo was shot, a group of older male family members went to Dorney Park in Allentown. Boo stayed behind.
Richards remembers that morning and her son’s last words to her. “My mom was cooking for Father’s Day. He came in and said, ‘Mom, I’m getting ready to be a dad.’”
“I said, ‘You better leave something behind!’”
Boo loved kids. He babysat family members often. His cousin Robyn, 25, was pregnant at the time. “He wanted to be the godfather,” says Robyn. “Every time he’d see me, he just kept asking about the baby.”
Richards recalls teasing him playfully. ‘I was just going, ‘You’re gonna be a father? Yeah, right Boo, who are going to get pregnant?’”
“A half an hour later, he got shot.”
Boo’s sister Sumayya recalls that day.
“He had a girl he was interested in [and he had] a thin piece of suede with a seashell on it, and he said to me, ‘Hold this,’” says Sumayaa. It was a necklace. “This was my brother’s exact words right before he got shot: ‘Hold this because where I’m going I don’t need it.’ I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’”
He was just heading to the corner store with a friend, but Sumayya sees the spiritual significance of her brother’s last words to her. “He didn’t know what was going to happen, but you feel it,” she says. “You can’t prevent it, but you feel it.”
There are three stores within two blocks of Gloria’s house. In terms of turf, two “belong” to Fifth Street, and the other one belongs to Seventh Street. The family says Boo went to the wrong store.
“I guess they didn’t want to walk to Fifth and Mifflin or Fifth and Pierce,” Sumayya says. “Boo went to Seventh and Mifflin. You walk into the store in somebody else’s neighborhood, that’s what is going to happen.” The store is less than two blocks from Gloria’s house.
Ceron heard the gunshots.
“I was around the corner where my aunt lives and someone came and said, ‘Your brother got shot!’” she says.
Employing massive shifts in scale and proximity, Strauss’ exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art features both modestly sized photographs in the gallery and an expansive installation of billboards that chart an epic voyage throughout the city.
It’s Thursday morning, and a small group of writers and photographers gather at the back entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Zoe Strauss’ first PMA solo show, Zoe Strauss: Ten Years, kicks off with a dance party next Saturday, Jan. 14. We’re here for a mini tour of the Billboard Project, a re-telling of the “Under I-95” narrative across the cityscape. As of yesterday, 54 billboards featuring Strauss’ photographs have been installed on billboards all over the city.
"Linda [right] worked at Sunoco right at I-95 and Allegheny Avenue, and I made the photo of her a few years ago. Kelly [left] was made about a year after in Vegas. When I was traveling it was somethin...
We reported in the beginning of July that Philly’s unofficial photography laureate, Zoe Strauss, was raising some cash to get to the Gulf of Mexico. Her goal? To document the aftermath of BP’s oil spill, which was the result of an explosion on an oil-drilling rig off the southeast Louisiana coast 101 days ago. What follows [...]
PW's 2015 Gift Guide
Dinner with Luke Palladino