Expect rain for much of the day with temperatures in the 50s.

As part of The Inquirer’s A More Perfect Union series, we’ll look at the Philly-made American icons that are rooted in systemic injustice and the artists who reimagined a few of them.

Also, John Fetterman hasn’t needed to say much en route to a lead in the Democratic primary for the Senate. But some believe that support isn’t as ironclad as it appears.

😷 Finally, with a slight rise in COVID-19 cases, city health officials are strongly suggesting Philadelphians make a return to masking indoors.

If you see this 🔒 in today’s newsletter, that means we’re highlighting our exclusive journalism. You need to be a subscriber to read these stories.

— Kerith Gabriel (@sprtswtr, morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

Stars, stripes, and other Philly-made American icons, reimagined

In a perfect America, the flag of this nation should represent “the inclusive, interracial democracy that [our] forebears struggled for,” according to Martha Jones, who delivers the third installment of The Inquirer’s A More Perfect Union series, examining the roots of systemic racism in America through institutions founded in Philadelphia.

In it, Jones says that she lives with a sense that the American flag doesn’t represent her as a Black American and that, in this current climate, it’s wielded as a symbol of patriotism rooted in exclusion. Her essay looks at the history of our nation’s flag and Black America’s place within all of it.

Additionally, our reporter Zoe Greenberg and interactive designer Dain Saint asked five Philadelphia-based Black and Latino artists to reinterpret a collection of American icons that got their start in the city. One artist scrubbed red, white, and blue from a Betsy Ross-inspired version of our flag, while another illustrated the joyful Black history of the sousaphone.

What you should know today

  • Prosecutors have neared the end of their federal bribery case against City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, but not before a heated exchange with their own witness.

  • A drug bust was uncovered after dealers used the Postal Service and UPS to send roughly 800 pounds of methamphetamine from Los Angeles to Philly.

  • The Biden administration has extended student loan payment deferrals through August.

  • Our columnist Jenice Armstrong has a message for incoming Philly School Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr.

  • Eager home buyers should be in luck this summer as would-be competitors get priced out and home builders continue to work feverishly.

  • Former Penn and Temple head men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy is set to become the next coach at La Salle, his alma mater.

  • South Philly Barbacoa chef Cristina Martinez is set to preview the menu at her newest spot this week.

  • Local Coronavirus Numbers: Here’s your daily look at the latest COVID-19 data.

How ironclad is John Fetterman’s popularity?

John Fetterman’s opponents have lambasted him for being cagey around certain issues and for skipping out on debates, but his unique approach hasn’t seemed to hurt his fund-raising or the perception of him as the front-runner.

Some believe that these next six weeks will show how much of that support is solid as he comes more and more under attack, and as the candidates ramp up television advertising.

Until now, the Democrats had jockeyed for endorsements and taken subtle digs at one another, without sustained clashes.

But Conor Lamb and Malcolm Kenyatta both blasted Fetterman at Sunday’s debate for skipping the event. Lamb, who started the criticism on Twitter last week, said Fetterman’s progressive positions will undermine him against Republicans — especially as the GOP tries to label any Democrat a “socialist.”

Our reporters Jonathan Tamari and Julia Terruso take a look at Fetterman’s popularity, his shortcomings that rivals are looking to take advantage of, and how all of it realistically will affect his chances come May.

🧠 Philly Trivia Time 🧠

The founders of Federal Donuts are thinking big. The quirky South Philly doughnut and fried chicken spot has expanded to 11 locations over the years and is now backed by a private equity investment firm. … Today’s question: Do you know how many locations Federal is looking to open nationwide? Take a guess and find the answer here.

a. 100.

b. 150.

c. 200.

What we’re …

🥖 Revealing: The case of voter fraud we discovered amid our hoagie bracket.

🤰🏻 Sharing: What you’re entitled to at work in Pennsylvania if you’re pregnant.

🤔 Wondering: Will the new developers of a Marriott going up in the BONER4EVER building keep the iconic tag?

🧩 Unscramble the Anagram 🧩

An essential of any quality iced tea hailing from Fishtown. 🐟


Think you know? Send your guess our way at morningnewsletter@inquirer.com. We’ll give a shoutout to a reader at random who answers correctly. Today’s shoutout goes to Clayton Moser of South Philly, who correctly guessed BELLA VISTA as Tuesday’s answer.

Photo of the day

That’s all for today. Stay dry. ☂️