10 years ago, York’s exclusive Lafayette Club became less exclusive, Part III
Lewis Miller captures York County forming a funeral procession in 1834 to commemorate the death of the Marquis de Lafayette, who died in France the month before. The marquis fought for America’s independence from Britain’s tyranny. In an ironic twist that suggests something less than equality, a York club named after the nobleman gained its first female member about 15 years ago and its first black member in 1998. (Drawing courtesy of York County Heritage Trust.) Background posts: 10 years ago, York’s exclusive Lafayette Club became less exclusive, Part I, Part II and Marquis de Lafayette captivates folks even today.
As perhaps the most prestigious private club in York, the Lafayette Club can serve as a bellweather of the community.
So it’s interesting that this year marks the 10th anniversary of the club’s integration. And as I outlined in the York Sunday News column When the Lafayette Club was integrated, a fundraising event at the East Market Street club earlier this year to aid the William C. Goodridge Underground Railroad Museum spells a bit of redemption for the private organization… .
The club has evolved from not having blacks in its membership ranks to aiding a museum that honors a system that helped fugitive slaves. And the museum’s sponsor is the Crispus Attucks Center, an organization that came together in 1931 to provide services to blacks in a segregated community.
So, things are tacking in the right direction at the club.
Space prohibited me putting a bit of telling background in the column.
All those years, the club had a rule restricting female members but none restricting blacks.
When asked a decade ago why the club had no black members for so many years, a club spokesman conjectured that none ever applied.
One can also conjecture that if a new CEO with one of York’s major manufacturers came to town, the club did not wait for his application.
That went out and recruited him.
Clearly, this did not happen with people of color from the York community, even after they started gaining positions of influence in the 30 years before the turn of the millennium.
If that had happened, the club would not have waited until its 100th anniversary in 1998 to admit its first black member.