Taking notes from the prominent minister Billy Graham’s street days, Turner Station community leaders took to the outdoors to encourage the community to preserve its legacy.
The outreach, held off Avondale Road last Friday afternoon, was meant to encourage younger generations to maintain, and help reinstate the legacy of Turner Station, local business owner and community leader Courtney Speed said. Local leadership figures, such as business owner Joe Louis Gladney, have proposed to create a council of Turner Station elders to teach youth about the way things were, and how to maintain what still stands.
“We’re trying to replicate what our elders did,” Speed said.
Speed recalled when she moved to Turner Station in the 1960s with her husband, the late John Emmett Speed Jr., the grocery center and barber shop which she now operates was a full mom-and-pop store which stocked everything the community needed.
“If they didn’t have it, and you let them know, they would have it the next week,” Speed said. “We’re trying to make sure that system is not lost.”
Fresh groceries are a hard find in Turner Station, with many of the major grocers which served the community now vacant. Speed said the community hopes to reinstate a worth ethic, and feed the community, by growing their own food in community gardens.
Community leaders are also trying to use social media to raise funds for rehabilitating the old VFW post on New Pittsburgh Avenue, as well as the grocery store.
At the abandoned building on Avondale Road, which used to house a gas station alongside an Acme grocery store, a drug store and a rental office, Rev. Michael McFadden of New Shiloh Baptist Church’s Turner Station outreach mission preached a way forward for the community.
“There is a rich, rich history of Turner Station,” McFadden said. “There are buildings here that need to be saved, that need to be preserved for the history of Turner Station.”
McFadden gave recognition to the elderly of Turner Station, the “pioneers” who moved in from various areas across the east coast to be a part of the community.
He said the service was also to honor Henrietta Lacks, the Turner Station woman who died 70 years ago this month of cervical cancer. While in the hospital at Johns Hopkins, her cells were sampled without her consent, creating the immortal “HeLa” cell line which has been used in several medical breakthroughs, such as developing the polio vaccine, AIDS research and more recently, studying COVID-19.
Lacks was recently honored by the WHO for her contribution to medical science, and her cells are the subject of a lawsuit filed by her family, seeking part of the profit biomedical company Thermo-Fisher Scientific has made off her cells.
Lacks’ cells have “miraculously lived even as she passed on, and have been used to cure so many different diseases,” McFadden said, also adding that “she is being recognized for who she is” in media after years of being an unknown savior in science.
“You’ve got to try to be like her, and leave a legacy,” McFadden said.