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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… 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… 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… absolutely Fabulous event……

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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……….…/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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Jeff Kirkland: Preserving York’s Black History

To help York build a better future, Jeff Kirkland’s preserving a history that’s been ignored.

Walk six blocks west from Martin Library, and you’ll find another kind of library. 

Hanging on walls, stored in boxes, and archived on hard drive after hard drive in Jeff Kirkland’s West Market Street home is a collection of stories that tell the history of York – the black history of York. 

For years, Jeff has conducted interviews, done research and collected photographs in an effort to preserve a history that’s been overlooked. 

He hopes to write a book one day, or maybe open a space dedicated to showcasing York’s black history. 

But for now, he works tirelessly to gather the information before it disappears.  

“History is lost when generations die out,” he says.


He’s learned about black entrepreneurs and the first black church. And he’s learned more of his own personal history. His grandfather, one of a group of 200 black men who moved from South Carolina in the 1920s, organized a protest against unequal treatment for black people at his job.  

It was also his grandfather, Jeff says, who urged Voni Grimes to move to York. 


It’s also important for white people to learn black history, he says.  

“To know how we got to this point. We didn’t get here accidentally.” 

In order to create a better future, you have to understand the past, he says. 

“Our story needs to be told.” 



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York’s Crispus Attucks in the ‘character building’ business

Crispus Attucks in York is home to a collection of African-American folk art. Robert L. Simpson, Chief Executive Officer narrates. Paul Kuehnel

Dr. George Bowles set the vision for Crispus Attucks Community Center from the beginning:

“Crispus Attucks is a character building organization.”

That is the mission that is in place for CA 85 years later.

This bit of history comes from the recently published first volume: “Crispus Attucks Association, 85 Years of Community Building.”

Jeff Kirkland compiled and edited the 50-page book, taking the reader through from the community development organization’s founding in 1931 through 1978.

The book is filled with stories about the contributions of a multitude of people in forming and nurturing the organization after its beginning as a social and recreation provider to York County’s burgeoning black population, which included many newcomers from the South. They were products of the Great Migration, a movement in which many people from the South came to Northern cities in search of a better life.

A glimpse at black history in York, Pa. Sean Heisey, York Daily Record

I’ll choose four people from the book to highlight here – achieving people whom history has overlooked or we need to know more about:

Helen Reeves Thackston: We’ll start with this early childhood educator, whose name is known around town – it was on a park sign for years and now attached to a charter school. But do people really know who she is? She headed CA’s preschool for black children for 32 years, including some Depression years, without pay. Here’s a summary from the book: “Mrs. Thackston probably touched more students in her time at Crispus (Attucks) than any other Educator in York’s history.”

– Omar Kimbrough: The dentist’s name surfaces throughout Jeff Kirkland’s work – as board president when CA moved into its longtime home in an old church at 123 E. Maple St. and as a leader in opposing the segregation of the Farquhar Park pool in 1950. According to the book, the pool had been closed since 1947 over a dispute whether blacks could swim there. In 1950, York’s parks director had a solution: Build a pool behind the Maple Street Center for the black community. Construction of the pool was part of CA’s master plan all along, but not with the aim of segregating the Farquhar Park pool. Kimbrough co-wrote a letter that stated: “we believe whole heartedly that the municipal swimming pool should be retained by the city and opened to all citizens regardless of nationality, creed or color.” CA built its pool, and the Farquhar Park pool eventually desegregated.

Mildred Chapman: Mrs. Chapman, women’s and girl’s department leader from 1941 to 1965, often is remembered in conjunction with her equally accomplished husband, Russell, mortician and city school board member. She was accomplished in her own right. A pharmacist in training but could not find work because of her color. “Instead she began working at Crispus Attucks and left a legacy of grooming hundreds of York’s young Black females.” She also served as acting executive director of CA for a decade, the first woman to head the organization.

Edward Simmons: He served as executive director from 1942 to 1953, and one event mentioned in the book spotlights his dedication. Thirteen-year-old Richard Miller discovered a fire on the second-floor gymnasium as he was walking by the building. The CA Boy Scout ran to inform Simmons, who lived next door, about the blaze and the two carried buckets of water from the basement to douse the fire. Notice where Edward Simmons lived: next to the community center, where he no doubt was called up to answer many pleas for help.


The second volume will focus on 1979 to the present, a period that we’ll call the Robert L. Simpson years. This era in which Simpson has served as executive director saw the evolution of the organization into a major player in community development and a prime mover of the formation of CA’s multiblock campus on York’s south side.

In his introduction to volume one, Simpson notes Bowles’ description of CA as a “character building” organization.

“We have worked hard over the years to make a positive impact on all who have crossed the doorsteps of this organization,” he wrote.

In a recent visit I made to CA, Bobby Simpson explored these themes – that young people coming to CA are exposed to high standards.

I named one young community leader and asked if he was a product of Crispus Attucks, and Bobby Simpson proudly said it was so.

He grew up nearby, was deeply involved and so were his brothers, Simpson said.

Products of this “character building” organization.

York’s Crispus Attucks in the ‘character building’ business


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Mr. Norman & Mrs. Ethel Laws

Mr. Norman & Mrs. Ethel Laws….two of my favorite people. Longtime contributors to the uplift of our community. Mr. Laws taught more than a few of us how to hold our hands at the Princess Street Center and the College Avenue gym…….In addition to her other talents, Mrs Ethel Laws was an accomplished singer.. This article is from a 1958 concert she gave at the Crispus Attucks Center. Mrs Laws presented a concert in four parts cleverly tied together by varying the style and mood just at the right time. Mrs. Laws went thru a varied renditions of songs including in the first set, “My Heart Ever Faithful”by J.S. Bach, “Star Vicino” by Salvatore Rosa, “One Fine Day” from Madame Butterfly and “With Verdure Clad” from the Creation by J. Haydn. A unusual assortment of songs which Laws performed. Another set which include Negro Spirituals “Roll Jordan Roll”, “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”, and I Want Jesus to Walk With Me”. Mrs.Laws was highly appreciated for her selections and performance. Her accompanist on Piano was Mrs. Irene Saxon…..Image may contain: one or more people and textMrs. Laws also directed several other musical organizations including the Bethel A.M.E. Church Chancel Choir.   On March 9, 1974 The Bethel A.M.E. Church Chancel Choir presented the Musical “God’s Trombones” at the First Moravian Church 39 South Duke Street. This was the very first the choir had performed for an audience that was not all Black. Gods Trombones, which traces the Development of music in the Black Church. It was directed by Mrs. Ethel Laws with Mrs. Irene Saxon serving as Organist. The Reverend H. G. Knight the Pastor of the Bethlehem Baptist Church presented introductory remarks. Reverend Knight is the Man who got me a scholarship to Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va, There was a lively fellowship after the program……..This photo is of one of the rehearsal sessions for the play………

                                                                                                       My Mother Gladys Kirkland with two of her Best friends, Crystal Dancy and Ethel Laws.