Family members, friends and residents touched by the work of the late state Rep. David P. Richardson Jr. gathered outside East Germantown's Pastorius K-8 school on Wednesday for the "re-dedication" of a mural honoring the renowned Northwest Philadelphia politician.
Also on hand were several elected officials — both retired and active, from city and state positions — who spoke to the legacy of a man who rose to become chairman of the Pa. Legislative Black Caucus while never forgetting those who elected him into office.
There had been a mural on the Chelten Avenue side of the Mastery school's exterior for more than a decade, but it was recently redone and, by all accounts, improved. In it, Richardson is shown standing amid students studying, trees, vegetables and the state Capitol building.
Richardson was first elected at the age of 24 in 1972, and was re-elected 11 times. When he died of a heart attack in 1995, at the age of 47, the Inquirer eulogized him as "a relentless advocate for African Americans, the impoverished and the disenfranchised."
That message carried over into speeches by state Rep. Steven Kinsey (who holds Richardson's old seat), mural artist Morris Jones, Richardson's daughter Nikki and in a letter from the late legislator's mother Elaine.
Words from his family
Standing up for those who needed representation "was the pulsing of his heart," wrote Elaine in a letter read by Richardson's Aunt Harriet.
After briefly addressing the crowd which moved inside to the school's auditorium because of bitter winds outside, Nikki said she hoped the art speaks to a lasting impact on the 201st District and well beyond.
"It's beautiful, even better than it was before," she said of the mural. "I hope this means his legacy is living on, that people haven't forgotten him. It's been 18 years, so clearly they haven't."