Welcome

About this Project

This site features the stories of activism and change making as told by women community leaders in Chester, Pennsylvania. The stories are part of a larger digital project on the legacy of Chester’s own Ruth L. Bennett. The larger project will explore Ms. Bennett’s legacy for activism, social change and racial justice in Chester then and now. Stay tuned!

Click to listen to Twyla Simpkins’ story on the influence of Ruth L. Bennett’s legacy on her personally and as a community historian.

In 2018, Twyla produced the short documentary, Finding Home: The Ruth L. Bennett Story, with Scribe Video Center.

Watch Finding Home: The Ruth L. Bennett Story

Have a story you’d like to share? Contact us!

Chester’s Women Changemakers is the recipient of the Heritage Commission of Delaware County’s 2022 Leedom B. Morrison Heritage Award in recognition of Outstanding Contributions to Historic Preservation in Delaware County.

TWYLA SIMPKINS

Founder and Director of the Yes We Can Achievement & Cultural Center (formerly the YWCA Chester) Ms T is capitalizing on her varied life experiences and city-pride love of Chester, her birth city in continuing the Yes Center’s mission of servicing its’ cultural and educational needs through a combination of traditional and non-traditional approaches to the Center’s imminent rebirth and revitalization. Twyla recounts her Chester journey from childhood, to her career as a teacher at Chester Upland, and her founding of the YES Center in a Chester Made Ms T.’s Corner.

Contact Twyla for further information on the Ruth Bennett & Chester’s Women Change Makers project at yescenterchester@aol.com


Photograph of Naomi Richardson

NAOMI RICHARDSON

As a facilitator in media arts, Naomi documents the Histories and Oral Histories-of ordinary persons’ lived and living experiences. Over the past sixteen years, she has been granted the opportunity to bring the process of storytelling, using various documentary genres, to understand communities in Camden County, Delaware County and the Philadelphia. She believes that making community- based art opens the way for participants to engage and thrive within their respective communities and be the voice of change. Working through the medium of documentary, she incorporates her knowledge of the histories, social contexts, politics and cultures of people of the African diaspora. Past works include her thesis “The Perception of the Concept of Culture in Sint Maarten/Saint Martin”, “Standing on Their Shoulders” four Zines of poetry, documentaries as a Humanities Scholar and Facilitator with Scribe Video Center and a documentary in progress on being BLACK/Colored and Catholic in Philadelphia.

CHRISTOPHER MELE

Chris is a Professor of Sociology at the University at Buffalo (SUNY), a 2022 NEH-Mellon Fellow for Digital Publication, and a 2022 Research Fellow at the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility. He is author of Race and the Politics of Deception: The Making of an American City (2017) about Chester.

Chris’s current project is a digital collection of stories and local knowledge about Chester by Chester residents. To learn more or ask questions, contact Chris at cmele@buffalo.edu

css.php