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Artist, musician and activist hails from North Philly

Richard J. Watson Age: 67 Where ya from? Born in Badin, N.C., but came to Philly at age 11 and grew up at 21st and Master. What do you do? Artist, musician and exhibitions manager and artist-in-residence at the African American Museum in Philly. Why did you move to Philadelphia? "At age 8, I moved with my aunt from North Carolina to Queens, N.Y., for three years. [His mother died when he was 3.] When I was 11, my father remarried, and we moved to Philadelphia." Historic ties? Member of the Cecil B. Moore Freedom Fighters protesters at Girard College. How did you get involved? "I was 19 and lived two blocks away. I heard so much noise, I wanted to see what was going on. I went there to do drawings. I didn't go there to be part of the civil-rights movement." But you became active. Why? "I was a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. I was there drawing in my sketchbook and one day the police took me to 17th and Montgomery to ask why I was drawing and why I was taking notes." What were you writing? "I also love music and play guitar, banjo, mandolin. I was writing songs and making sketches. I saw myself following in the tradition of Bob Dylan, Richie Havens and Jimi Hendrix." Were you arrested? "No. They held me for a couple hours. Then several of the older adults came to the police station to demand they let me go." - Valerie Russ