Footprint Journeys, "Start Here": Verrone Romeoletti
by City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Dancer and choreographer Amanda Miller and video artist Tony Rothlein incorporated oral history, video and movement with Start Here, a work — part of Journeys South — that drew on first-person stories of individual or familial journeys to South Philadelphia. At the heart of their exploration was the question: "Where do the paths of immigration intersect?"
Verrone Romeoletti (also known as Sifu Rome and Idris) grew up in South Philadelphia. After living in various parts of the city, he returned to teach martial arts.
“I grew up in South Philadelphia as a child. We stayed with my father’s sister and then we moved to North Philadelphia.”
“’Romeoletti’ came from my great-grandfather. His name is Romeoletti. It’s Italian, comes down from Sicily. It just lingered on and on, passed on down, and I finally got the name. My name is Verrone Romeoletti Scruggs, but I don’t use Scruggs. I just use Romeoletti.”
“I have a lot of dear friends who are truly Italians and I’ve got to say they’ve been very supportive of me. When I first moved down here to teach over here on 16th and Tasker, they led me in, they welcomed me. If I need anything, they’re there for me. So I have truly great respect for the Italian community. Because, like I said, they done me well.”
“We all bleed the same. Just open your mind to every nationality. Because everybody can teach you something, you can learn something from everybody.”
This project has been funded by The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Heritage Philadelphia Program.