Autobiographies contain valuable golden nuggets about York
Autobiographies should be part of a person’s reading list.
Sometimes in passing, they provide memorable moments that add to understanding.
I had one of those wonderful flashes in reading Carrie H. Ford’s “Service to His Glory.” Ford, longtime French teacher in the York City School District, became better-known for following her late-in-life second calling — that of a missionary to Liberia for 17 years.
In 1994, the North Carolina native wrote about graduating from York’s William Penn Senior High School in 1930.
She graduated as an honor roll student, she wrote, the first black student to do so. And she was the first black person to speak at York High’s commencement.
Shiny golden nuggets there… .
She told about her family coming to York in about 1918. As often happened, her father and two brothers came North to find work and opportunity, and her family later followed.
These were the years of great movement from the South to cities north of the Mason-Dixon Line. York’s black community reached critical mass about 1930, and that prompted the founding of Crispus Attucks Association and the opening of two new segregated elementary school buildings.
Ford wrote that most black people in those days were working or had no interest in continuing their education beyond the all-black Smallwood Elementary School. So, her appearance on the high school honor roll and at commencement was unprecedented.
Today, most York City school directors are black.
Carrie Ford was a 20th-century pioneer in York, and her autobiography preserves her exciting life’s story.