Philly museum founder steps up for Pa. House seat being vacated by Rep. Rosita Youngblood

The Pennsylvania House chamber. Image via Flickr Commons

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PHILADELPHIA — State Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood, who has served the 198th District in Northwest Philadelphia for 26 years, will not seek re-election for another term.

Democratic Pa. House hopeful Supreme Divine Down, of Philadelphia, who’s running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood. Youngblood, the first Black woman elected to a House leadership position, announced her retirement this week (Philadelphia Tribune photo)

The question now is, who will take her place?

Supreme Divine Dow, a lifetime resident and founder of the Black Writers Museum, believes he has what it takes to take over Youngblood’s position.

Dow’s family heritage is deeply rooted in politics. During the late 1970s, his mother, Dolores “Dody” Dow, was the first campaign manager for the late state Rep. David P. Richardson. She and her family also worked on the late Hardy Williams’ campaign for mayor in the early 1970s.

“As a young child, I understood the value of utilizing the electoral politics to gain resources, representation and goods and services from the local government and I understood the value of that,” Dow said.

Dow’s parents, who were born and raised in Germantown, raised Dow in Germantown and were heavily invested in the community. For years, Dow has devoted himself to activism, advocacy and community organizing in Germantown and the rest of Northwest Philadelphia.

Dow may be the only candidate with a rich history and strong families ties to the Germantown area. He believes he has what it takes to make a striking change in the 198th District.

“I’m confident that I can provide leadership in addressing critical issues that face Philadelphia, the 198th District and our country, which are the despicable and disparaging conditions of the Philadelphia public school system. I will lead the fight in actually having the crucial conversation with the Philadelphia delegation, with communities and with the state in helping to bring a qualified, accountable public school district that adequately and effectively [educates] our children and prepares them for post-high school opportunities,” Dow said.

One initiative Dow suggested is partnering with nearby colleges to provide students with access to libraries to complete research papers. “We have to recognize that there is a specific and systemic correlation between the incarcerations of Black youth, poverty and the miseducation in Black communities,” he said.

Dow said he isn’t afraid to take risks and that he has a track record of growing a strong foundation in the community.

Rep. Rosita Youngblood, the first Black woman ever elected to a House leadership post, is retiring

“I’m not afraid to take a risk or make the investment. I decided in 2007 to take my life savings and develop the Black Writers Museum. I didn’t have a million-dollar endowment, I used my life savings. I opened up a storefront and with my collection of Black books, research and Black literature regarding the experience of Africans in America. We’ve grown to have signed documents from Dr. Martin Luther King and Langston Hughes.”

In 2013, Dow moved into the Vernon House and partnered with the City of Philadelphia to change the atmosphere of Vernon Park, once known for drug dealing.

Dow plans to continue his fight to eradicate drugs and violence in Germantown and Northwest neighborhoods.

“One main issue for our district is community-based violence. We have to stem that immediately. These are tough issues that people dance around and talk about,” he said. “What we’re going to do from an elected official standpoint is we’re going to engage our community into what we call a Positive Engagement Strategy. A lot of the corners of the streets that these young men stand on today I can tell them a story of how I stood there at one particular time in my life.”