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.



Author: jkirk

Founder and Chief Researcher for the York African American Historical Preservation Society