Joann Bell was recognized on March 30th, 2023 by the Philadelphia City Council for her limitless contributions to the city.
The following are the floor remarks from the meeting:
COUNCILWOMAN BROOKS: Thank you, Council President. In honor of Women’s History Month, I am continuing my series of resolutions honoring powerful Philadelphia women who shaped our city’s history and transformed it for the better. Today I’m excited to honor Joann Bell.
Joann Bell is a social worker, union leader, radio host, who has dedicated her life’s work to the struggle for equity for women and Black and brown Philadelphians. As Vice President of AFSCME DC47, she fought against discriminatory requirements and helped kept Black women in City jobs. As the first appointed Executive Director of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs, she advocated for Black people across the state. As a co-founder of Black Women’s Leadership Council, she pushed government to listen to and respond to the issues and concerns and solutions for Black women. And Joann Bell forced open doors that have long been closed to Black women, doors that I and many others have since been able to walk through.
Her organizing leadership is an inspiration to all of us who are working to remove the barriers that keep women and Black and brown Philadelphians from participating and leading in City government.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT CLARKE: Thank you. That will be — Councilman Johnson. The Chair recognizes Councilman Johnson.
COUNCILMAN JOHNSON: Thank you, Council President. I just want to echo the sentiments of this very, very outstanding acknowledgment of my good friend Ms. Joann Bell and want to thank my colleague Councilwoman Kendra Brooks for acknowledging her, because Ms. Joann Bell has always been on the front line of empowering young people. She believes in empowering young people since I’ve always known her, way before I got involved in politics, and she’s always advocated to make sure we had a seat at the table. But also as we celebrate Women’s History Month, she’s definitely on the forefront of making sure that African American women and women of color, Black and brown, have a seat at the table when it comes to economic development and when it comes to women’s rights.
And so very fitting acknowledgment of her, and I want to again acknowledge my colleague Councilwoman Kendra Brooks for taking time out and acknowledge the hard work that Ms. Joann Bell has been doing. And a lot of people don’t see what takes place behind the scenes and a lot of work that she does actually stopping things negative from actually happening.
And so very fitting for you to acknowledge her, Councilwoman Brooks.
Thank you, Council President.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT CLARKE: Thank you, Councilman. The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Bass.
COUNCILWOMAN BASS: Thank you, Mr. President. I wanted to echo those sentiments and also thank my colleague Councilwoman Brooks for acknowledging Ms. Bell.
One word to describe her is authentic, straight-up, you know, no games, just really a straight shooter, which, you know, in this business always is not to be had. And so Joann Bell really stands above and beyond.
I’m glad to see her being acknowledged today, and I just really wanted to echo those sentiments, because she’s someone who, you know, is just really out there on the front lines fighting for economic justice, particularly for people of color and women throughout the City of Philadelphia, and has been for a very long time, without any sort of fanfare or attention. And so it’s a wonderful thing to give her her honors.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT CLARKE: Thank you, Councilwoman. The Chair recognizes Councilman Jones.
COUNCILMAN JONES: I would be remiss if I didn’t join the chorus of people acknowledging Ms. Bell. My reasons, we go back more years than I care to talk about, but when she was in the role of District Council 47, her advocacy for the working people was second to none. I would also go to say that she could have lived anywhere, but she chose the Fourth District.
Thank you very much.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT CLARKE: Okay. The Chair recognizes Councilman Thomas.
COUNCILMAN THOMAS: I’m sorry, Council President. I hate to do it, but I also have to just thank my colleague Councilmember Brooks and just give my love and appreciation to Ms. Joann Bell.
I’m sure all of us have a story. I won’t necessarily share mine because it’s a little embarrassing, but she’s a phenomenal mentor and a great person, and I appreciate all she’s done to help me and to help the City of Philadelphia.
COUNCILMAN JOHNSON: You got to tell.
COUNCILMAN THOMAS: I got to tell it? I’ll put it in a text. Thank you, Council President.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT CLARKE: Make sure it’s a group text so we can all see it. Thank you, Councilman.
The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Gilmore Richardson.
COUNCILWOMAN RICHARDSON: Thank you, Council President. I too wanted to rise and thank our colleague Councilmember Brooks for acknowledging Joann Bell. You have to say something about her because she is just that special.
I too honored her last year as one of our living legends during Women’s History Month, and I said this about Emma Chappell and I’m going to say it about Joann Bell: She is a woman who fixes another woman’s crown without telling the world it is crooked.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT CLARKE:
Thank you, Councilwoman.
The Chair recognizes Councilman Phillips.
COUNCILMAN PHILLIPS: I just simply want to say thank you, Ms. Joann Bell, for all the service that you’ve done in the City of Philadelphia and particularly in the Ninth District.
I just have become familiar and friends with Joann Bell recently. She was actually one of the first people who interviewed me when I started on City Council, but prior to this, the Ninth District has had a great relationship with Ms. Joann Bell through Councilman John White, Councilwoman Marian Tasco, and also Councilwoman Cherelle Parker.
So I just want to salute her for all of the things that she’s done for our community in the Ninth District.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT CLARKE: Thank you, Councilman.
The Chair recognizes Councilwoman Vaughn.
COUNCILWOMAN VAUGHN: Good morning, everyone. You know, Joann Bell is someone that I met when I first came to Council because her sister, Jerri Williams, used to be a City employee and she ended up retiring for Casey, from Casey’s office, and when I tell you this woman will call me at any time to say it’s time for us to have lunch or it’s time for us to get together and talk. Jerri, her sister, who now lives in Harrisburg, will often just send me a little gift and say she was thinking about me.
So these women are very instrumental in my life and they are the reason that I am what some folks will call the fixer today. So I tip my hat, along with all of my colleagues, in the respect and admiration and love that I have for her.