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Remembering Paula Peebles, Sister Warrior

todayJanuary 24, 2024 2360 3 69 5

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There’s no mistaking the power she exudes when she walks into a room; it’s not her beauty — although she is beautiful. It’s not just her grace — because she is gracious. It’s not her many admirers. It’s the power of her convictions.

Paula Peebles is our Sister Warrior whose activism spans 50 years: from a teenage Black Panther fighting injustices in our criminal justice system to a housing activist who boldly led a sit-in in the mayor’s conference room when he refused to meet with her group (she dared to order food delivery as they waited for him to capitulate) and a national leader supporting causes across the United States as the president of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Action Network under Rev. Al Sharpton.

It was a call to action. Twenty women gathered in the meeting room of the Guardian Civic League (Black Police Officer’s Association) in the winter of 1986. One of the last to arrive was Paula Peebles, with her sidekick, the late Linda Brickhouse. Those who knew Paula and Linda knew they were inseparable and could at times be irascible. Many of the women in the room were either Black elected officials or professional Black women. Halfway through the meeting, Paula unloaded on the group, accusing them of being bourgeoise and out of touch with the grassroots. Over the next several months, the group worked together on establishing an organization that would be inclusive of all viewpoints and build sisterhood. This was the birth of the Black Women’s Leadership Council.

As a convener of the Black Women’s Leadership Council, I worked on many issues concerning the Black community with Paula and found myself on many corners, over the years, marching behind her while she carried a bullhorn barking “No justice, no peace.”

Paula Peebles joined Rita Hill and I as a cohost of Black Women’s Leadership Council on WURD Radio after the loss of our beloved Dr. Emma Chappell in 2021. The listeners knew and loved Paula Peebles; many of the callers were anxious to speak to Paula to reminisce about growing up in North Philadelphia or their shared activism on various issues.

Sister Warrior fought to the end. After being told her prognosis, she bravely told medical professionals that “no one knows the date nor time that God will call you home.”

And with the help and support of her equally fierce daughters, Paula outlived the doctor’s prognosis by almost a year. Paula, from her sick bed, called me weekly or biweekly to discuss the Philadelphia mayor’s race and would often remind me to turn on the debates. She stayed abreast of the national news and would offer topics to discuss on the show. She even tried to cut a promo from her sick bed wishing WURD a happy 20th anniversary.

Paula Peebles — mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, family matriarch, sister warrior, history maker, grassroots fighter, national activist and beloved Philadelphian — answered God’s call on Sunday, January 21, 2024.

I love you my Sister Warrior,

Joann Bell, host of Black Women’s Leadership Council

Written by: WURD Radio

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  1. Huriyyah on January 25, 2024

    Thank you so much Joanne for that very touching and to the point memory and description of our Woman King Paula Peebles. The entire community is heartbroken. I learned so much about activism from Paula. I rode so many buses up and down the highway under her leadership to protest different incidents in this journey called Being Black in America. R. I. Paradise Paula, Job well done

  2. Delores Lewis on January 26, 2024

    My name is Delores Lewis, and I am a wurd listener and would like to express my condolences to the family of Paula Peeples. This is to Soloman Jones I too would like a copy of This is my Place I would be happy to pay a price for it. Thank you for hearing me out.

  3. Yentoneth Whyte on February 3, 2024

    She was an inspiration to so many. She will be greatly missed. I pray you are resting in the arms of GOD.
    Too many of our people are dying too soon. Can we address eating in our communities? We also need to talk about alternative medicine that is prolonging the life of so many people. Don’t forget, GOD is in alternative medicine too. GOD is the reason it works and when GOD says it’s not going to work, it doesn’t. We cannot rely only on conventional medicine. Let’s continue the movement, Black Empowerment.


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