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Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. the Pursuit of Excellence

 

 

York Alumni Chapter

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. 

The Pursuit of Excellence

A good friend of mine, who is a member of the York Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. asked me if I would write a piece for their upcoming 35th Anniversary Celebration booklet.   The Sorority is celebrating 35 years of providing positive interaction and support for members of our Community. I was Deeply Humbled and delightfully surprised by the invitation. I take pride in my literary and other “God-Given” skills and feel highly honored to be able to help when I can, particularly when my own Folk ask.

One of the leading reasons I applaud this Organization, besides their activism, is their consistent, continued support of Education in our community.  There were many Fine teachers present in their midst over the years and this generation of Deltas continue to carry on that focused tradition. In fact, more than half of the Original Charter members were Teachers. So, I know my writing will be scrutinized to the fullest.

 Among those original charter members were

  • Wanda Dorm, who always offered a supportive comment and would, in her role as Guidance Counselor, advise you on how to make the system work for you instead of against you.
  • Deb Ritter, one-time Math Department chair. One of our own “Hidden Figurers”.
  • Julia Harris, who rose to become an assistant Superintendent. Dr. Harris was always a, firm but fair, advocate for all students, particularly those who felt they were not being heard.

The 12 Original members who founded this 724th Chapter in February of 1984 met at the home of then President Toni Gibson for the Chartering service which was conducted under the auspices of Regional Director Dorothy Stanley from New York. Those members included:

Alfreda Dorm, Alice Faye Kirkland, Toni Gibson, Pam Jordan, Genora Orr, Marcia Murray, Sharon Ritter, Wanda Dorm, Deb Ritter, Carmen Frost, Julia Hines-Harris and Brenda Elby.

Other teachers or educationally associated ladies involved over the years included Christine Bracey, and Mary Beatty, Betty Crenshaw, Gwen Rankin, Rozina Hensford, Wanda Brantley, Eloise Newsome, and Anna Breeland. Other members included Sylvia Anderson, Joan Chandler, DeLois Nichols and Genora Orr. Serena Barnes, Aretha Brown, Melanie Still, Magaret Ekles-Ray, Deborah Robinson,

Back in the early days the Sorority would sponsor, what in my opinion, was one of the Finest social events for Young Ladies this community has ever witnessed, the Peppermint Ball. It was somewhat like a coming out party for young Black Girls who had a desire to pursue excellence and success as a young adult. The Deltas used their experience and wisdom to help guide these young Ladies towards a path for Success by instilling in them a sense of Pride and Purpose.

In 1988 our Family was honored to have my daughter Valesha participate in this wonderful event. She eventually became Queen of the Peppermint Ball, as the event was called, and it made a very positive and motivating impact on her life.

The competitions between Families to have one of their own recognized as the Queen of this event was fierce but friendly, as each Family vied to have this honor bestowed on one of their own. It helped to build community Pride and Familial support for all involved.

I want to thank the Deltas for their vision, dedication and hard work in uplifting the Young ladies of our community and only wish the young ladies of today had more pathways available to help them See the Light. This event emphasized Cultural Competence and implored the young Ladies to “Be Best” long before the current First Lady coopted the term.

Their yearly Senior Recognition Programs in which the Sorority honored graduating Seniors with awards to help them on their continued educational journey was another of their effective community uplift initiatives.  

In 1991 Yorker Judy Hunter was awarded the Fortitude award. This award was named for the Statue commissioned by the Sorority for the campus of Howard University, where the Sorority was founded. The statue was made of several types of metal which would eventually turn one color signifying the one people philosophy of the organization.  The statue stands with her hands reaching back while pointing forward. This denotes that we must all reach back to bring our Brothers and Sisters along with us into the Future.

An original founder, Julia Harris said in a 1991 newspaper article that, the York Contingent broke off from their joint agreement with the Lancaster Chapter, which began in 1975 at Mr. Lacey’s Lounge in Marietta, Pa., to better focus on the numerous problems we faced here in York

In 1976 the Sorority began a “Teen Lift” program in which they “adopted” Marian Calhoun and Adele Breeland in a pledge of support for their college careers.

In 1984 the Chapter began an Adopt a Business program whose purpose was to support the fledging African American business which had begun to grow here in York. The first two businesses adopted were “Brother Johns” Grocerette owned by John Jamison on Pershing Avenue and “Just for Us Cosmetics” owned by Edith Watkins on South George Street. The Sorority had recognized the importance of Black owned Businesses to our success.

In September of 1984 the Sorority sponsored the Betty Crenshaw Memorial Fashion Show in honored of one of their fallen Sisters

Julia Harris’s 1990 letter to the editor in Defense of her Sorority sister Jenora was indicative of the Strong Sorer bonds that existed in this Chapter. Jenora, who was known for her Strong, some say radical, approach to fighting injustice, was undergoing some heavy criticism at the time. In her letter Mrs. Harris applauded Jenora for carrying on the strong tradition of public service that was a principle of the Sorority.  

In May of 1996 under then president Pam Jordan, the Sorority led a coalition of groups in a campaign and March against teen Pregnancy

In April of 1997 they honored 16 women including my Mother as Women Who Have Made a Difference in the York Community.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. This organization of dedicated Women has led the way in cultivating and perpetuating the culture and traditions of our People.

The Cultural significance of those events and the overall importance of handing down culture and traditions should not be lost on those who fret at the troubling decline in the mores and values we see in our communities.  Through Cultural events like these, we are able to water and preserve the roots of our illustrious History to provide a roadmap for the next generations to help them chart their way forward. Thank you, Ladies of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. 35 Years is a significant commitment and you have built a Steller record of Service to our community. We appreciate you and applaud your courage and commitment.

Congratulations,

Jeffrey Kirkland

Founder, the York African American Historical Preservation Society

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Center for the Study of African American History

 

Coming Soon. One of the Initiatives of the York African American Historical Preservation Society This Dream will Not be Deferred.

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The Community Chorus

The Community Chorus originated as the Gospel Male Chorus in 1928 under the leadership of Mr. Emmanuel Washington and David Sexton. It has also been known as the Zion Boys Quartet, the Sextette and the Zion Male Chorus. In 1939 the all-male chorus decided to enlarge the group by adding female members and renaming the group the Community Chorus. The first meeting of that group was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Heirs, 470 Codorus Street where the following officers were elected; President, Mrs. Leah Hopewell, vice-president, Mrs. Pearl Keenheel Secretary, Mrs. Rosabell Colston. Treasurer, Mr. David Orr and Director, Emmanuel Washington. Rehearsals were held at the home of Rev. Frederick Lusan pastor of the Zion A.M.E. Church until it was decided that a larger meeting place would be necessary. Mr. Washington then secured the music room of the Crispus Attucks Community center for rehearsals. The members of the Chorus at that time included; Pianist, Miss Naomi Washington, sopranos, Ms. Bertha Nicks, Mrs. Ruby Ritter, Mrs. Rosa Bell Colston, Mrs. Alberta Washington, Mrs. Mabel Washington, Mrs. Rosanna Dowery, and Mrs. Mittie Grimes. Altos, Mrs. Johnnie Mae Scott, Mrs. Vera Holman Mrs. Pearl Keenheel, Mrs. Octavia Muldrow and Mrs. Rosa Jenkins. Tenors, Herbert Scott, Charles Washington, Willis Murray, Norman Washington, and David Sexton. Basses, Earl Ritter, Robert Scott and David Muldrow. Other members included; Mrs. Virgie Johnson, Mrs. Victoria Smith, Mrs. Emily Dagins, Mrs. Rebecca Freeland, Mrs. Rebecca Preston,  Mrs. Ruth Redman, Mrs. Florine Moore, Mrs. Mabel Grimes, Ms. Margaret Bailey Ms. Grace Bailey, Mrs. Johnny Carter, Joe Washington, Norman Washington and William Felton.

The Chorus became a featured attraction at many community events. In 1948 at a meeting of the York City Council the Chorus sang a rousing rendition of a song entitled “Jim Crow Must Go” in response to the closing of the community swimming pool at Farquhar Park. Rather than admitting Negroes the pool had been closed by the city for almost 3 years. 

Mr. Charles Washington, was born in Bamberg South Carolina the son of a Music teacher. His family was closely associated with music while in the South. After coming to York, Pa. he studied music under the late professor Dennis. He became a member of Zion A.M.E. Church where he joined the choir, Zion’s Quartet and the Gospel Male Choir. In later years he joined Bethlehem Baptist Church. He became director of the Community Chorus after his Brother Emmanuel, the previous director and a founder had died.

The Chorus became the first Black Chorus to appear Live on WSBA Radio on Sunday afternoons in the mid-forties. Mr. Washington became director and manager of the famous Jewel-tones Gospel Singers, a group of dedicated persons who came from various churches in York. The Jewel-tones traveled over many parts of the East coast appearing on Radio & Television programs. Through his work with various singing groups throughout York Mr. Washington taught many people to sing and play instruments even though they had no musical background. He was married to the lovely Alberta Washington and they had six children……Mr. Charles Washington another of York City’s African American Icons.

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The Princess Players

 

Over the years we have had Sooo much Culture in this city…… whether it was individuals or the many talented families……whether it was Singers and Musicians, Artists, Actors, Poets or Playwrights…….York has seen its share……It’s past time for a Renaissance…..time to restart the Culture because as the liner notes on Donald Byrd’s classic album Ethiopian Knights says….It the Culture that Carries us through the Trying times we as a people have faced…….Its the Culture that connects us to what we really are…..and its the Culture that shows us what we shall be………Last week I highlighted the fantastic Miss Fine Brown Frame contest which allowed many of our young ladies to showcase their Beauty & Talent and from the comments I’ve heard many of the Ladies involved benefited immensely from those experiences……This week I will showcase the Fabulous Princess Players…..many of whom were great Thespians in their own right……First up Ms. Margaret Scott & Ms. Betty Johnson among others who starred in the Princess Players Production of Happy Ending…….other cast members included Anthony Grimes and Richard Kinard
Princess Players production of Purlie….starring James Colston & Joseph Carter………
Princess Players present “To Be Young, Gifted & BLACK”………starring Lee Smallwood, Maude Kent, Betty Johnson & Connie Wilson ……another wonderful production…..
Here we have the Beautiful Nadine “Pinky” Williams one of the Stars of the Princess Players production of “West Side Story”……….
Princess Player Production of “Us and Others” starring the Beautiful & Talented Joyce Hawkins…..also playing in this production were Betty Johnson & Albert “Bumper” Harrison……

 

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Mrs. Ida Grayson – York’s Green Book Connection

Mrs. Ida (Smith) Grayson was another prestigious member of York’s Black community in the early 1900’s. Mrs. Grayson has recently become notable for her relativity to the highly rated new movie “The Green Book”. Mrs. Grayson operated a boarding home in the early 1900’s named The Charlotte Hotel, located at 32 West Princess Street. This Boarding House was listed in several editions of the Green Book. The Green Book was a booklet much like what AAA would put out to advise travelers on this decision or that, relative to traveling. The significant thing about the Green Book was that it was a lifesaving booklet for African American travelers. It advised them on which locations were safe or not for Negroes, as we were called during that era.

Mrs. Grayson was born in 1884, the Daughter of Mr. & Mrs. James & Adell A. Smith. She came to York with her family in 1893, from Norristown, Md. It is not a surprise that Mrs. Grayson’s establishment was listed as a safe haven for Negro travelers and others of that time. Her entire life was dedicated to uplifting and building her community. She was prominent in many local and state Negro organizations. Mrs. Grayson was a Charter member of the Phyllis Wheatley Literary Club.  She was a founder of the Emergency Girls Club and the Entre Nous Art club. Mrs. Grayson was a member and District organizer for the Pennsylvania State Federation of Colored Women’s club.

Mrs. Grayson was highly active in the Faith Presbyterian Church, a small but powerful and influential Black church whose members had broken off from the Historic First Presbyterian church. She served as a member, trustee and Sunday School teacher. The churches focus and mission was the uplift of York’s Black community. Other famous, faithful and influential members of that church included Dr. George Bowles and the Rev. Thomas Montouth, two of the founders of the Crispus Attucks Center.

The 2001 book “How Women Saved the City” by Daphne Spain, mentioned Mrs. Grayson’s Home for Girls, which her Grandson Byron told me was on West College Avenue

                                  Illustration of 1956 Green Book

In April of 1934 Mrs. Grayson gave a major talk to the Women’s Missionary Society of Grace Lutheran church. Mrs. Grayson’s talk was on on Race Relations and Building a Better World. It was met with much praise and high emotions. Mrs. Grayson quoted from Dr. W.E.B. DuBois writing the Object of Segregation. She called the Negro problem in America the ‘greatest handicap’ to building a better world. She said “indifference and prejudice breeds ignorance. She opined that perhaps the churchwomen were not informed on the topic and so asked them to answer certain questions definitively and courageously. Do you judge the whole Negro Race by your experience with the Negro who works for you? Do you have any friends among the Negro race? Do you ever read books or magazines written by Negroes about Negroes? Do you realize the Negro is being given a Raw deal by the New deal? Do you know anything about the housing conditions of Negroes in your town? Is segregation practiced in the schools, churches, restaurants and other public places that you frequent? And what if anything are you doing to alleviate or eradicate these conditions? She closed the talk by requesting the women to plead with those they associate with to treat the Negro as  worthy citizens.

Her son Charles graduated from Millersville State Teachers College and Howard University in Washington D.C. known as the Black Harvard. Eventually he received a Masters Degree in Education from Penn State. Charles went on to a distinguished career as a school teacher and administrator. He taught and was acting Principal of the Smallwood School, one of York’s two segregated schools at the time. After schools desegregated as a result of the Brown versus the Board of Topeka, Kansas,  he became an administrator with the York City School District. In 1953, While still a Principal at Smallwood School, Charles was appointed by Governor John S. Fine as the first African American Alderman in York.

Mr. Grayson, like his Mother Ida, was very aware of the problems facing the Negro in this community and the country. And like his Mother he was not afraid to speak out against injustice. In 1950 he gave a speech at the Small Memorial A.M.E Zion church underscoring the need for change. Grayson challenged America by saying, “  Unless American capitalism narrows the wide gap between the conditions of the Negro today and the expectations of equality laid out by this country’s forefathers, the Negro will seek a solution to his problems in another system. Speaking on the persecution of Negro Icon Paul Robeson for his outspoken views, Grayson said, “Lift Paul Robeson’s comments out of the emotional context with which they have been surrounded and show me where his demands for complete spiritual, cultural and personal freedom is subversive”. Grayson went on to say, “Like the white man the Negro seeks Freedom and shares all the glorious hopes of the West”. “Today the Negro is rejected, the inhuman picture that whites carry in their minds, the continuous anti-Negro epithets on their lips, shut out the Negro as truly as if he were in a cage”. Grayson closed his talk by saying, “the members of both races must throw off their deep-rooted resistance to the presentation of the problem in all its hideous fullness if race relations are to be improved”. Mr. Grayson was speaking at the 27th annual banquet of the church’s trustees. He was introduced by Mr. Henry Hopewell, Principal of Smallwood School. Mrs. Joanna Harris was toastmistress and Rev. William Baker, pastor also spoke.

Mrs. Grayson died February 3, 1936 from a complication of diseases. Her funeral was held at Faith Presbyterian church with the Rev. Thomas Montouth presiding. Her interment was at the historic Mt. Pisgah cemetery in Wrightsville, Pa.

In May of 1945 businessman William C Smith, who died in 1940 left a bequest of money to the Martin Memorial Library to establish the Ida Smith Grayson Memorial Fund. The fund was to be used to purchase books and magazines featuring the development of the Colored Race written by members of the Colored Race

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Dr. George W. Bowles was a Giant in York’s History

Dr. George W. Bowles – a Giant in York’s History

 

Dr. George W. Bowles was born in York, Pa. in 1881. He was the Son of Mr. Adolphus & Mrs. Harriet Bowles of this town. His father Adolphus Bowles, was born in 1850 here in York. They lived at 127 West Princess Street. His Father Adolphus was employed in the Small building downtown as an Elevator Man. George was always an intelligent and motivated individual. He was the First Black Man to graduate from York High in 1898, although he was the second Black Person overall. Mrs. Emma Robinson, longtime school teacher of this town, was the very first person of color to graduate from York High in 1886.
After graduating from York High, Dr. Bowles attended and graduated from Livingstone College, a Historically Black University in North Carolina, affiliated with the A.M.E. Zion Church. He then pursued a four year Degree in Medicine at Howard University in Washington D.C. Dr. Bowles graduated number one in his class from Howard University on June 1, 1906. He was awarded his diploma personally by U.S. President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. In 1906, immediately after graduation, Dr. Bowles returned to York to become the First Black physician to practice in this city. But Dr. Bowles became more than just a Doctor. He became a Guiding Light in the development of York’s Black community for the next several decades.
In 1913 Dr. Bowles wrote one of the most controversial papers ever when he advocated a separate Negro Colony as a strategy to combat the atrocious conditions the Negro had to cope with. During a lecture before the Paine Literary Society held at Bethel A.M.E. church Bowles advocated segregation as a way to bring about better living conditions for the Negro in the city and said there ws presently a movement afoot in the city to organize a Negro Colony in York. His lecture was entitled “The living Conditions of the Negro”. Education was dealt with at length in his lecture. The Doctor criticized the Negro for his lack of interest in the public schools intending to show the importance of education to the Negro both individually and as a race. He referred to two representative Negroes, Dr. W.E.B.DuBois and Booker T Washington. the former for his efforts in the pushing the value of higher education and the latter for his emphasis on expanding industrial and vocational education. Speaking about discrimination, Dr. Bowles referred to conditions in this as showing how unjust as far as citizenship, the treatment Negroes receive in this city is. Getting even more controversial Dr. Bowles suggested the citizens of York should offer inducements that will attract a better class f Negroes rather than the large portion of Negroes who are undesirable.  He  went on to say that on certain occasions it was impossible for Negro ministers and professionals to rent on a good street, but was compelled to live under filthy conditions. Bose disclosed that steps are being taken at this time to get a number of local organizations enlisted in a movement to start a Negro colony, a place where the Negro could live without the accustomed humiliation.
In 1917 Dr. Bowles married the lovely Helen Hunter Taylor, a teacher in the Harrisburg public schools. She was the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Lorenzo Taylor, who were prominent in the colored circles of Harrisburg. Miss Taylor in addition to being a school teacher was a musician of marked ability. The couple would reside at 322 Water Street in York which is now Pershing Avenue.
Dr. Bowles was well known in this city and commanded great respect especially among the leading citizens here, both Black and White. He was President of the Peoples Forum a Black organization which stressed education and vocational activities in York. In 1910 the Peoples Forum opened and operated a tobacco factory on Penn & Smyser Street in York. The factory was under the direct supervision of Dr. Bowles and employed about 50 Negroes. The factory was one of the greater accomplishments of the Peoples Forum Vocational and Employment initiatives. The workers were paid between $2.50 and $9.00 per week. Dr. Bowles intended the Forum and its initiatives to be a Great force for uplift among the colored race in this city. The Forum was non-sectarian and held a regular meeting every Sunday at A.M.E. Zion church which was on East King Street at the time. Other officers of the organization were; Marion J. Armstrong Vice-President, S. Milton Gibson, Secretary, Albert Foster assistant Secretary, Paul Foster corresponding Secretary, Nathan Gibson Chaplin, George Chapman Bible Instructor and John C. Reeves Treasurer.
Dr. Bowles along with Rev. Thomas Montouth and his wife Mary, was also instrumental in procuring the Community House for Colored People which was established on North Duke Street in 1917 and had a reading room, reception room, game room and a small gymnasium. Community House was under the auspices of Faith Presbyterian Church and was a model for the Crispus Attucks Association, of which Dr. Bowles along with Rev. Montouth, was a Founding member. In addition to Bible study classes, domestic science and art classes, boys and girls clubs and an employment bureau the Community House became famous for its Community Lyceums or forums. These lyceums were held every week alternatively at the several Negro churches in the community.
In 1915 Dr. Bowles, whose office was at 112 West King Street, was one of three representatives from the State of Pennsylvania to be appointed by then Governor Tener to attend the Emancipation Celebration marking the fiftieth anniversary of Negro Freedom, which was to be held in Chicago.
In 1917 Dr. Bowles was elected as a member of the House of Delegates of the National Medical Association, an organization of Negro doctors, surgeons, dentist and pharmacists throughout the United States. In 1938 he was elected as President of this prestigious organization. As President of this organization Dr. Bowles was honored by the Pennsylvania Institute of Negro Health for his “outstanding contributions” and for his activity in planning for better Negro health in the United States. He testified before the U.S. Senate committee on a national health bill.
For 10 years Dr. Bowles chaired the advisory committee of the National Negro United Public Health Services in Washington. In 1942 he was appointed by Governor Gifford Pinchot as a member of the Pennsylvania Inter-Racial Commission. Locally he served for six years as Chairman of the Inter-Racial Commission of York. And in addition to his character building efforts at Crispus Attucks he was instrumental in insuring that the young Black males of York had an opportunity to build their character and leadership skills by participating in the Historic Boy Scout Troop #11, which he along with others worked diligently to sustain.
Dr. Bowles was a prolific writer and a powerful speaker. He would write many letters to the local newspapers trumpeting the need for Negro Unity to address the problems in the Negro community. During celebration recognizing the two hundred and ninety sixth anniversary of the Negro in this country, held at St. Pauls Hall on West Jackson Street, Dr. Bowles spoke on the subject “Will the Education of the Negro Solve the Race Problem?” For a speech at the Bethel A.M.E. church on Newberry & King Street, Dr. Bowles chose as his topic “Race prejudice and Some of It’s Causes”. At another Lyceum at Bethel A.M.E Dr. Bowles spoke on “The Negro Problem Real & Imaginary”.
In March of 1916, Dr. Bowles and others, organized a committee of persons interested in uplifting the colored people of this community. They called a mass meeting for the expressed purpose of forming a local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The objectives of the organization would be to form a center for popular education, to create a bureau for the study of local racial conditions and to seek the overall welfare and advancement of the colored people of York.
A short time later Dr. Bowles and a delegation of York Negroes met with Mayor Hugentugler to petition against the showing of the racist film “Birth of a Nation”. The delegation felt that the already considerable prejudice against the Negro race in York would be made far worse by the showing of this anti-Negro film which was based on the Thomas Dixon, Jr. book “The Clansman”. Other members of the delegation were; Rev. J.A.S. Cole, Pastor of A.M.E. Zion church; Rev. G.S. Burton Pastor of Shiloh Baptist church; Rev. W.E. Williams, George I. Reed, G.H. Chapman, and B.T. Montgomery.
Dr. Bowles served on the Board of Directors of Crispus Attucks for over 20 years. Crispus Attucks had a resounding impact on the growth and development of York’s Black Community during and after the tenure of Dr, Bowles. Dr. Bowles statement on the founding of Crispus Attucks was prophetic. He said, “We have a National Purpose in forming this organization. We will be a character building organization. We want to influence the young in order to bring them into Harmony with our ideals. We hope in the development of our center to bring to bear influences that will create conditions which will enable another rising generation to develop character and to perpetuate the best of our culture and traditions. The overall purpose of our organization is for the promotion of the social and moral welfare of the colored people of York. To us this means up-building character by creating and developing activities and conditions that will help the individuals to live happily and normally with each other.”

 

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1968 Debutante Ball Sponsored by the Society for the Advancement of Careers

How many of you remember the 1968 Debutante Ball sponsored by the Society for the Advancement of Careers under the leadership of Mrs. Mildred Chapman held at the Yorktowne Hotel…..an absolutely Fabulous event……

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A few more photos from the 1968 Debutante Ball sponsored by the Society for the advancement of Careers under the leadership of Mrs. Mildred Chapman held at the Yorktowne Hotel…..an absolutely Fabulous event…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few more photos from the 1968 Debutante Ball sponsored by the Society for the Advancement of Careers under the leadership of Mrs. Mildred Chapman held at the Yorktowne Hotel…..an absolutely Fabulous event……

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CONVERSATION ON RACE

As we approach the 50 year anniversary of the civil disorders known as the York Riots, which shook this community to its core, the subject of Race and Race Relations continue to be a polarizing and somewhat difficult topic to discuss. We believe that the difficulty and aversion to broaching this subject causes us to remain in a state of ignorance and denial regarding the underlying emotions and causes which sparked the civil disorders of the 60’s and which continue to cause a crippling racial divide in this community today.  We believe this unwillingness and inability to discuss and adequately resolve the long simmering, racially charged issues of the past is detrimental to the overall growth and development of all segments of the community and is actually threatening to the creation of a strong social fabric here in York.

Although there has been incremental progress in the creation of a just and equitable community, any cursory review of quality of life indicators will reinforce the fact that we have a Long way to go in creating a community that really respects, utilizes and values its diversity. Whether we look at the works of social scientist David Rusk who spoke of the need for deliberative efforts to correct the systemic inequalities which exist here, or whether you review the statistical analysis of the York Counts review of Quality of Life indicators, it is perfectly clear that many of the underlying issues which instigated those terrible times of years past continue to plague us today.

We believe one of the first steps to resolving or eradicating those issues is to have open, honest dialogue about Race. To that end we are proposing a Community Conversation on Race modeled on President Bill Clinton’s 1995 National Conversation on Race. This forum and workshop would be designed to bring together interested community residents in a safe, non-threatening environment where we can engage in meaningful, productive conversation centered on healing the trauma of the past and creating a unified vision for engagement and progress as we move together into a more inclusive and prosperous future for All of our citizens. A few of the overarching goals of this initiative will be;

  • To articulate a vision of racial reconciliation and a just, unified community;
  • To help educate the community about the facts surrounding the issue of race;
  • To promote a constructive dialogue, to confront and work through the difficult and controversial issues surrounding race;
  • To recruit and encourage leadership at all levels to help bridge racial divides;
  • To find, develop and implement solutions in critical areas such as education, economic opportunity, housing, health care, crime and the administration of justice — for individuals, communities, corporations, and government at all levels.

At the conclusion of this initiative we will present a report to the community that will represent a vision of One York, which incorporates and builds off of the growing diversity of our community. The report will reflect the work that has occurred during this process including conversations and suggestions at town hall meetings and other venues; reports on how the issue of race has evolved during the last 50 years; and provides recommendations and solutions that enable individuals, communities, businesses, organizations and government to address difficult issues and build on our best possibilities.

In order to accomplish this very important task we are soliciting the support and help of all persons and organizations who have a shared interest in and are concerned about the type of social construct which develops here as we move together into what could be a proud, fruitful and prosperous future. For us all.

For more information and/or to arrange a contribution to our efforts Please contact;

Thank you for your interest, concern and support.

 

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Sports, Culture and Power

 

I want to thank the sponsors of the recent telecast of the York High / Central football game. My schedule has been so hectic lately that I have not been able to see this terrific team play.  It was heartwarming to witness the positive, and emotional celebration this York High team displayed tonight. You could feel the love, the comradeship and the Spirit they displayed, after their well-deserved Victory over Central. Spirit such as this has the potential to Lift the Spirits of all of those around it.

I began thinking about the Cultural and Historical impact this season of success would or could have on the psyche of this community. From past experience, I know how much of an impact the actions and behaviors of a popular, admired or respected group of young men can exert on the climate of a community, positive or negative. Back in the days, as in today, the enlightened could almost track the climate of the community by examining the success or lack of success of its major sports team.

With the difficult and troubling educational process in our community, some people say we spend too much time on “Celebrations”. Not truly understanding that as a people Celebration under adversity has and continue to hold the taunt threads of our survival together. Celebration of familial and communal events serve as a time of rejuvenation and inspiration to a body that faces adversity and struggles for survival almost every single day. The celebration of family members success – Proms, Athletics and Graduation – are almost sacred in our community, even amidst the difficult times.   

Back in the 1980, my Brother Kerry and I ran a few youth development, educational programs around the Philadelphia, New Jersey region. At one of the Universities we participated in a program to train a group of “Positrons” These Positrons would serve as a small cadre’ of youth who could act as internal change agents amongst their peers. The theory was to train groups of young students to act as positive leaders in their communities, which were caught up in the throes of a growing, devasting drug trade.

I’ve always thought that, even though our district has had significant issues, if we could improve the attitude, desire and value our students have towards education, we could overcome any obstacles. And visa versa, if we can’t improve those characteristics our district will continue to struggle however many times we tweak the curriculum or infuse additional resources.   

Even though Culture is highly Political, I don’t want to totally politicize this commentary. So, my thoughts were, can you imagine the young Men of the York High football Team serving as mentors, tutors and role models for the generation of youth coming up behind them. Can you imagine these young men having visible positions throughout the school district, and the community, modeling what success looks like to a younger generation?  Can you imagine the impact of these young student/athletes, most of whom I hear pursue excellence in scholarship, on the educational habits of the rest of the district’s students?

This team and the Spirit they have awakened in this community reminds me of one of the overriding themes of the recent Movie “The Black Panther.” In the movie, the Spiritual connection to Family, Community, History and Culture provides significant buffer against the destructive forces of the World. It has been quite a while since this community has had such a game changing opportunity for improvement like the one it has now.  

Many folks especially many who benefit greatly from much of the downtown development might say they are pleased with the progress of this community

Renovating, rejuvenating, and the development of buildings without Renovating, rejuvenating, and developing the people is simply like putting lipstick on a pig. Not insinuating the town is a pig, but, you get the picture. People say sports. Like music is one of those things which transcend race, politics and the troubles of the world.  

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Art & Culture: Pushing the Boundaries of Thought

York College is representative of this community’s tendency to hide from or misrepresent the Truth………Fortunately there are those that try to hold them accountable……..Shame, I hope they learn something from this……….http://www.ydr.com/…/york-college-named-2017-lis…/977938001/

Went to visit an absolutely stunning art and social commentary exhibit today. The Paul Rucker exhibit “Rewind” which is on display at York College until tomorrow evening is awesome. It is unfortunate that the College felt it necessary to restrict access to this enlightening and thought provoking exhibit. It could have served as a powerful catalyst for this community to really begin a much needed, honest and introspective conversation on Race. Instead of applying a politically correct bandage to questions of race that is normally done in this community, this exhibit Rips the Scab of complacency off the historical injustices and transgressions in a manner that could allow us to sterilize and then cauterize those historical wounds as we attempt to move forward in a much more equitable manner. I only had a short time to view the exhibit. Other parts included a fascinating display of musical instrument parts constructed in a manner that depicts historically significant events. There is also a display of ‘Famous last words’ of many of the Black men and women who died at the hands of overly aggressive police officials. There were also artifacts and books which spanned hundreds of years of racial and human injustice in this country……..If you have an opportunity to check this out please do it will be well worth your time.

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