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SOSNA Black History Month

Updated: Feb 14, 2019

We're celebrating Black History Month by bringing you stories and history about some of our neighborhood and city's prominent African American figures and organizations through history. 



The Christian Street YMCA has been a landmark of this neighborhood for more than ninety-five years. As the city’s first African American YMCA and the fourth in the nation, it served not just those in the immediate vicinity, but the whole African American population of Philadelphia.

Though the nation’s first African-American YMCA was founded in Washington D.C., in 1853, it was not until the national YMCA office created a “Colored Men’s Department” in the 1890’s that their number proliferated. By the mid-1920’s there were 51 African American YMCA’s nationwide. Segregation at YMCAs was strongly discouraged as official policy after 1945, and the association banned it outright in 1967.

Along with the Southwest-Belmont Branch of the YWCA at 1605 Catharine Street, the Christian Street YMCA became a center of African-American community life, providing opportunities to many residents and a home to community organizations.



In 1896, W.E.B. Du Bois, having completed his Ph. D. at Harvard and spent two years at Wilberforce University in Ohio, acce