Linda Gayle Waters Richardson November 21, 1946-November 2, 2020
Linda Richardson was born in Philadelphia, PA to the late Lester and Bertha Waters. She received her formal education in the Philadelphia Public School system and was a proud graduate of Overbrook High School. She was a devoted community builder, daughter, older sister, wife, mother and grandmother. She married the late Donald Richardson, in 1965, and from that union had Aissia Richardson and Tarik Richardson. In 1982 she then married the late Yahya Abdul Karim and they became the power couple on Avenue of the Arts-North Broad Street in the 1990’s most known for their work with the Black United Fund, Uptown Theater, Garvey-Wells Bookstore and actively participated in Temple University’s Pan-African Studies Community Education Program (PASCEP) . They had two biological children together, Monifa Young and Mariama Wood and also served in parental roles to Keshia Jones and Gerald Covert. Passionate about the arts, she worked her first job long enough to save money to get an Associate’s degree from the Philadelphia Dance Academy in 1967 where she majored in Dance and Theater. She was a performer, fundraiser and wardrobe designer for a North Philadelphia theater arts group called, The Black Butterfly. After working in and teaching theater/dance for the Philadelphia Recreation Department and School District of Philadelphia for many years, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is what propelled her to a life of activism and community building. She was rehearsing for a play with the integrated Theater 14 at Heritage House in North Philadelphia when the actors heard commotion outside: a community enraged, feeling hopeless and discussing economic oppression and racial disparity. She spoke to them about art, hope and vision but felt her cultural work was irrelevant. It was then she began transitioning to do community organizing for the People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice and, later, Triple Jeopardy. From 1972 to 1979 she was hired as co-director of the People’s Fund, the precursor of Bread and Roses Community Fund, a progressive social change foundation.
The Uptown Entertainment & Development Corp. (UEDC) is a community development corporation, incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1995, received its 501c3 tax-exempt status in 2002, and registered with Pennsylvania Bureau of Charitable Organizations since 2004. UEDC has identified the historic Uptown Theater, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as its first acquisition and revitalization project. Development plans include renovating the theater as an entertainment venue, creating a museum dedicated to preserving Black music, developing a technology center, and providing commercial leasing space in the proposed Entertainment and Education Tower. Other UEDC projects / programs include:
* A newly-acquired LPFM Radio Station ..:: Uptown Radio | WJYN 98.5 FM ::..
* A Job Bank for construction workers
* Uptown Youth Got Talent (UYGT) for job readiness, audio/video production and performing arts
"Uptown Youth Got Talent"
* Commercial Corridor Cleaning & Beautification
* African American Preservation Heritage Trail / Historic Trail Project
UEDC also serves as a Registered Community Organization (RCO) for North Central Philadelphia (aka The Uptown Cultural District, Avenue of the Arts North, Harlem Quarter North) in conjunction with the City Planning Commission's Citizen Planning Institute.
Provides youth (13 - 18 years old) with summer enrichment activities, sponsors trips during the year to cultural events, provides work-study for high school and college youth, and operates an on-the-job training for youth eligible to work.
Provides technical assistance in environmental and neighborhood issues to individuals and community development corporations, and offers workshops, seminars and forums on neighborhood issues.
Provides limited referrals for affordable housing and tenant issues. Future plans include developing an affordable housing program.
Linda Richardson is the president of the Uptown Entertainment & Development Corp., which oversees the renovation of the famous Uptown Theater. She's spent two decades fighting for its preservation - but to understand her love of the spot, you have to understand its history.
Back in the late 1920s, a beautiful Art Deco movie palace opened up in North Philadelphia to serve its largely immigrant population. The Uptown Theater was known for its luxurious interior where it showed the popular "talkies" of the time - until the Great Depression hit, that is. As the demographics of the surrounding community shifted, Uptown became known for its live performances instead and was a popular stop on the "chitlin circuit." In the decades that followed, everyone from The Supremes to a pre-Hall & Oates Daryl Hall took the Uptown Theater stage, which also became a magnet for civil rights activists in the area.
The mission of the Uptown Entertainment & Development Corporation is to revitalize communities that are underserved by providing jobs, education and housing services. Our first project is the renovation of the Historic Uptown Theater.
All year around donations are need here at The Uptown Theater. We provide many programs that need the love and support from our Philadelphia community.
2017 The Uptown Theater welcomes our very first radio station WJYN 98.5fm!! This station will employee local talent on air personalities who will provide news, music and talk geared to North Philadelphia and beyond.