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The Heart Beneath the Hood


On Monday, August 5th, 2013, close to 300 people came together in the courtyard of Philadelphia’s City Hall for the first-ever Philly reACTS, titled The Heart Beneath the Hood, in honor of Trayvon Martin.

This initial event asked participants to look beyond the hoodie; to see each other for who we are, what we stand for and who we can be as individuals. It was a call to face each other and talk— not just about Trayvon Martin. But about what we should do now, in Philadelphia and beyond.

Performers included host Laiya Stclair from Hot 107.9, Freedom Theatre’s youth vocal ensemble, poet Michelle Myers, actor and tap dancer Khalil Munir, jazz vocalist and composer Ruth Naomi Floyd, hip-hop artist Badia, DJ Foxx Boogie, and jazz musician Ernest Stuart. The Honorable Mayor Michael Nutter delivered a moving address, including a personal reflection on his own experiences as a young Black male in Philadelphia. In addition to these performances, dozens of people told their personal stories to our video and audio interviewers.

PhillyReACTSFlagAttendees also donated their own hoodies to the creation of a hoodie flag (pictured right)–a symbol of community and strength, which was sewn by our friends at Fabric Horse. Audience storytellers shared their personal tales through video and audio recordings about times when they were misjudged and how they found the courage to move forward in a positive way after experiencing it.

First Person Arts Debuts Philly reACTS, An Artistic Forum Responding to Major Current EventsHear a diverse mix of Philadelphians share their responses to the killing of Trayvon Martin at Philly reACTS: The Heart Beneath the Hood (produced by Nick Gilewicz), followed by the story of a mother trying to stay connected with her incarcerated son, from the First Person Museum (produced by Samara Freemark) on the First Person Arts Podcast.


Philly reACTS: The Heart Beneath the Hood laid the groundwork for artistic expression, in hopes that the conversation of equality will continue amongst all cultures and generations of Americans. Through artistic action, we all can further the cause for equality.

Thanks to our hoodie dropbox hosts: Free Library of Philadelphia’s main branch, Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy at City Hall, Painted Bride Art Center, William Way Community Center, and Red Tettemer O’Connell and Partners.

Philly reACTS: The Heart Beneath the Hood was held in partnership with the Office of Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners, and is made possible with funding from the Heritage Program of Philadelphia, part of the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, and the City of Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.

Upcoming Events
  • StorySlam: The Morning After
  • Date: July 30, 2019
  • Time: 7:30 PM
  • Venue: CSZ Philadelphia
  • Location: 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
  • StorySlam: Windfall
  • Date: August 27, 2019
  • Time: 7:30 PM
  • Venue: CSZ Philadelphia
  • Location: 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107