Leon Sullivan at the opening of Progress Plaza, Philadelphia, PA, Sunday, October 8, 1968.
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Leon Sullivan and the Reverend Thomas Logan, Masonic Grand Master at Opening day at Progress Plaza, Broad street, Philadelphia.

Credit: Courtesy of Urban Archives, Temple University

Born and raised in West Virginia, Reverend Leon Sullivan was "flabbergasted" at the conditions surrounding Zion Baptist Church after his arrival in Philadelphia in 1950. Sullivan spent the next half century working to improve the lives of Philadelphia's African-American residents, many of them newcomers from the American South. Focusing on black jobs and economic development Sullivan led the effort to create Progress Plaza, the nation's first African-American owned and operated shopping center. Some ten thousand people gathered for its opening at Broad and Oxford Streets on Sunday, October 8, 1968.

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