Alumnus Malcolm Kenyatta, who is running to represent the 181st District in the state House of Representatives, said he opposes Temple’s proposed on-campus stadium. He also said elected officials have a responsibility to ensure public money does not fund the project.
Kenyatta said he opposes the stadium because community residents have not been involved in the project’s development.
“I’m going to continue to have a big mouth about this and every single thing else as it relates to the people in this community,” Kenyatta said. “You cannot make a decision about us without us.”
Kenyatta, a 2012 public communication alumnus, is a third-generation North Philadelphian from a politically active family. He is the grandson of civil rights activist Muhammad Kenyatta, and the cousin of state Rep. Curtis Thomas, who he is running against in the state House race. Thomas has held the 181st District seat since 1989.
Whether Kenyatta wins the 181st District or not, he said he plans to continue to advocate on behalf of his community.
“I plan to remain engaged in this and all fights that have to do with this neighborhood,” he added. “This is my neighborhood. I’m not going anywhere.”
Despite dozens of calls to Thomas’s offices, he could not be reached for comment.
Thomas has worked with the Stadium Stompers in the past, serving as the main liaison between the university and the anti-stadium group, which is made up of students, faculty and community residents. In July, Thomas organized a meeting between President Richard Englert and Stadium Stompers leaders — the first time the two groups had met.
Kenyatta has been a vocal critic of Temple’s plans to build an on-campus stadium, and now that the school is moving forward with its plans, he has been attending events to oppose the stadium.
Kenyatta attended a March 1 anti-stadium town hall at George Washington Carver High School of Science and Engineering. Students, faculty and residents voiced their opposition, along with representatives from the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia NAACP to the stadium. Thomas did not attend the town hall.
“We have an example right here right now of people coming together, not just long-term residents, but students and faculty and everybody saying with a unified voice, ‘This is not something we want,’” Kenyatta said.
Englert was invited to the March 1 town hall, but did not attend. Englert instead announced that the university would hold its own town hall at Mitten Hall on March 6. The event ended early after protesters prevented Englert from speaking for more than a few minutes without interruption. After the event, Kenyatta released a statement.
“This evening’s meeting regarding Temple University’s proposed football stadium was a tea-kettle moment,” he said in the statement. there was a lot of tension in the room. “But this tension cannot be used as a predicate to ending badly needed dialogue. In fact this tension is what results when there is not sustained conversation based on mutual interest and respect.”
Kenyatta said he thinks it’s important for the university to have a positive relationship with the surrounding North Philadelphia community.
“If we just make this an issue that’s simply about the stadium and not about the broader ways that North Philadelphia has been forgotten about, left behind, and completely disregarded by the continued expansion of Temple and broader development more generally, then I think we’re going to miss the forest for the trees,” Kenyatta said.