Dr. Leon Sullivan is now the official namesake of the arrivals hall at the Philadelphia International Airport. The renaming ceremony was organized by the Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy, the Leon Sullivan Foundation Charitable Trust, and the Philadelphia International Airport. A permanent exhibition documenting Sullivan’s life and work was installed.
Dr. Leon Sullivan was born in West Virginia and arrived in Philadelphia in 1950 as a Baptist minister. He was a civil rights activist based in Philadelphia and urged citizens to boycott companies that would not hire Black people. Among his many accomplishments, he established the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC), an organization dedicated to Black entrepreneurialism, created the “Sullivan Principles” and proposed those to govern U.S. investments and business operations in South Africa. In 1968, Sullivan founded the Progress Plaza, and in 1970 he joined General Motors as the corporation’s first Black board member.
Along with the renaming, a schedule of events is set, both virtual and in person, to reflect on Reverend Sullivan’s legacy of advancing civil rights, social and economic justice, and empowering Black and minority communities.