6abc 2021 Black History Month honorees: Dr. Ala Stanford, Richard Gordon IV, William H. Gary III, Underground Railroad Museum at the Belmont Mansion Fairmount Park

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) – 6abc honors Black History Month 2021 by celebrating the local visionaries and leaders past and present.

In 2021 we celebrate a doctor on the front lines of the COVID fight, a top breadwinner with national recognition, a history museum and a pioneering politician.

For more stories and profiles of influential African Americans, past and present, visit 6abc.com/blackhistory.
Dr. Ala Stanford, MS, FACS, FAAP

  • Given that the lack of testing was disproportionately affecting the city’s black population, the Black Doctors COVID-19 consortium established the goal of improving access to testing for African Americans in the city of Philadelphia, who have conducted more than 22,000 accessible and free tests has tests. The consortium will deliver the vaccine to Philly’s black communities.
  • American Board of Surgery certified board for general pediatric and adult surgery.
  • Medical correspondent for local and national news agencies
  • Member of the COVID19 Vaccine Advisory Committee of the CDC Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • Worked and trained at the University of Pittsburgh, SUNY @ Brooklyn, Pennsylvania State University, Milton S. Hershey College of Medicine, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.
  • Has owned and managed REAL Concierge Medicine, Co. since 2013. REAL is a personalized healthcare company providing unique and complex healthcare and advocacy services to individuals and businesses in the United States and internationally. Founder of 501c3 It Takes Philly, Inc., a nonprofit that focuses on the professional and personal development of youth in urban and suburban areas with limited resources.
  • Mentor to students and people of all ages and is a frequently invited speaker.
  • Directs medical mission trips to Haiti and heads the medical triage ministry in her local church.
  • Wife and mother of three sons, a 12 year old and a 10 year old twin.

  • First African American woman to graduate from the University of Pittsburgh as an adult general surgeon.
  • One of two African American pediatric surgeons in North America who completed a pediatric surgery fellowship.

Richard Gordon IV, National Director of the Year

  • Headmaster, Paul Robeson High School for Human Services, Philadelphia School District
  • Richard has been an educator since 1996. Before he became headmaster, Richard was a teacher, special needs teacher, truancy liaison and deputy headmaster.
  • Since 2013 he has been the headmaster of a school whose final closure was planned. The school was recognized as the 2017 Most Improved School in the City of Philadelphia.
  • Credited for developing a model college and career readiness program. Paul Robeson High School is in the top third of schools in Philadelphia and PA (2020, 2019, 2017 US News & World Report Rankings).
  • In 2017, Principal Gordon received the National School Administrator of the Year Award from Education Dive Magazine.
  • In 2018 and 2019 he received the Distinguished Leader & Advocate for Change Award from the “MADE MAN” Foundation.
  • In 2019, the Pennsylvania Department of Education recognized Principal Gordon for Paul Robeson High School as a “High Progress” school and removed it from the Commonwealth’s list of academically “high needs” / underperforming schools. Numerous state and national recognitions including the 2019 National Principal of the Year Award from the National Alliance for Black School Educators, the Modern Man of Distinction Award 2019 from Black Enterprise Magazine, and the Dr. University of Pennsylvania 2019 Community Education Award for Martin Luther King Jr. Social Change.
  • Received three quotes from Philadelphia City Council and one quote from the Pennsylvania State Senate for student excellence.
  • He was recognized Pennsylvania School Principal of the Year in 2020 and received the Distinguished Service to Education Award.
  • Appointment as National School Principal of 2020-2021 by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
  • Board member of the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania (Community Advisory Board).
  • Grew up in Camden, NJ and Philadelphia.
  • Graduated from Pennsauken High School
  • Product of an imprisoned father and single mother who raised 3 boys as a hairdresser in Camden, NJ.
  • Studied at Lincoln University and Lehigh University. Currently PhD student at Northcentral University.

Belmont Mansion Fairmount Park Underground Museum

  • Dedicated to colonial history and the 19th century network of people and places known as the “Underground”.
  • The American Women’s Heritage Society, an African American women’s organization founded by Ms. Audrey Johnson-Thornton, was dedicated to the restoration and maintenance of the rundown and abandoned Belmont Mansion. Determined to preserve the building, she raised funds, arranged a $ 1 annual lease from the City of Philadelphia, and gathered students from Temple University to research the history of the mansion.
  • Built in the early 18th century, the mansion is one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in the United States. Belmont Mansion became part of Fairmount Park in 1869
  • The property around the Belmont Mansion was originally a group of farms and became part of Fairmount Park in 1869 as part of a program to maintain water quality.
  • The Belmont Estate has been transformed by commercial developments such as railways, quarries, oil refineries, and a country resort for private parties. In anticipation of the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, a large dining pavilion was built next to the Belmont Mansion. The site continued to be used for public entertainment until it became a historic home museum in 1986 under the direction of the American Women’s Heritage Society.
  • After extensive renovations, the Belmont Mansion reopened in the summer of 2007 as The Underground Railroad Museum in the Belmont Mansion.

Congressman William H. Gary III, pastor, activist

  • First black member of Congress to chair the powerful and partisan budget committee and first black representative to become the third largest Democrat in the house.
  • Stand up for apartheid and play a key role in dismantling the racist system in South Africa. Drafted an anti-apartheid bill to impose sanctions on South Africa that resulted in the freedom of Nelson Mandela in 1990.
  • As one of the most significant and influential politicians in Philadelphia history, an agreement was reached with Amtrak in 2014 to rename 30th Street Station to William H. Gray III 30th Street Station. It was legally signed by President Barack Obama in August 2014.
  • He moved to North Philadelphia in 1949 when his father took over his father’s pastor at Bright Hope Baptist Church
  • Graduated from Simon Gratz High School in Philadelphia in 1959 and earned a BA from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1963. Gray, majoring in sociology, received a master’s degree in divinity from Drew Theological Seminary in Madison, New Jersey in 1966 and a master’s in theology from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1970
  • Became a community activist in 1970.
  • Gray founded the nonprofit Union Housing Corporation in Montclair to build affordable homes for low and middle income renters.
  • In 1971 she married Andrea Dash, a marketing consultant. They raised three sons: William IV, Justin, and Andrew.
  • After his father’s death in 1972, Gray assumed the position of pastor at Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia.
  • In 1975 he co-founded the Philadelphia Mortgage Plan, an organization that helped people in low-income communities get mortgages
  • At the height of his political power, Gray announced abruptly his resignation from Congress on June 20, 1991, effective September 11th.
  • Was President and CEO of the College Fund / UNCF from 1991 to March 2004 and received more than $ 1.58 billion for the organization.
  • Served as special advisor to Haiti under President William J. (Bill) Clinton
  • Won a Medal of Honor from Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

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