White House Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson visited Vaux Big Picture High School Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the reopening of the Sharswood public school at 23rd and Master.
Vaux reopened this fall rejuvenated by $15 million in renovations from the Philadelphia Housing Authority.
Now a member of the Big Picture Learning nonprofit, the school will take on alternative methods of learning, like end-of-semester exhibits and community internships.
“It really doesn’t matter where a person comes from, what their social, economic or ethnic stance is,” Carson said at the event. “They get a good education, they write their own ticket.”
But a block away, protests were brewing.
Protesters from the Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities gathered on 24th and Thompson —a block and several police cars away from the school.
“Today we’re here to show Ben Carson how important that affordable houses are,” said Constance Morrow, who stood among a crowd of about 20 people protesting the cuts.
Morrow, a director at the Women’s Community Revitalization Project, lives on the 2300-block of Germantown Avenue. The city has lost a fifth of its affordable housing units between 2000 and 2014, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. WCRP, among other things, develops affordable housing in the city.
“We’re all out here today because gentrification is knocking on our door,” Morrow said.
Here are some of the scenes from Carson’s visit and the protest: