Sidney Taylor, Black History Month Speaker, Stresses Merits of Determination


Sidney Taylor was not the best speller in grade school but he did not let any academic difficulty stand in his way. Taylor, a former school teacher and today president of the African American Historical Cultural Society of Bucks County, encouraged students to have sheer determination to succeed much like Harriet Tubman, in his talk, "The Underground Railroad: What Has it Got to Do with Us?" Feb. 3rd at Mercer's James Kerney campus.

"Not everyone is interested in your getting an education," he said. "You have to study hard and do the right thing. You've got to get on the Underground Railroad but today it is above ground. There is no free ride."

After graduating from the University of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Taylor taught in the Bucks County and Willingboro school districts. While at Willingboro, he helped launch the school's public access television system, which was the first to publicize school board meetings in New Jersey. He trained many students to operate the equipment and to conduct interviews.

Since retiring, he has worked diligently as part of the African American Cultural Society to research and document the contributions of Bucks County African Americans and the relevance of Bristol as a route along the Underground Railroad.

Front row, Lucia Brown-Joseph, coordinator of the African-American Student Organization, and speaker Sidney Taylor. Back row: student Michael Sharp with former student Gary Jolley.

The talk drew a large audience at the James Kerney Campus.

In Bristol Borough, Pa., the Society erected the Harriet Ross Tubman Monument along the Delaware River, adjacent to Lion's Park. According to Taylor, the monument is the only freestanding one in the United States. The larger than life-size bronze figure of Tubman is surrounded by a memorial walk. Taylor's plans now call for establishing a Cultural Diversity Center.

"I don't readily tell people I am a relative," said Taylor, when asked about his Tubman family connection. Harriet Tubman's father and his great-grandfather were brothers. Taylor is also the father of MCCC's Jason Taylor, Associate Director in the Financial Aid Office.

"I knew I had to make it on my own merits," continued Taylor. "I studied hard. My uncle always said, 'never be late, never disappoint.' That is what Harriet did and she never lost a person. She had determination, character and moral fiber. She was my inspiration."

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