York Town Square

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York, Pa., civil rights leader took plunge against discriminatory ban at city pool

Maurice Peters, Sr., addresses York (Pa.) City Council about the use of excessive force by the police department in 1965. Council President Fred Schiding is seen at right. Peters was a leader in the civil rights movement in York County in the 1960s. (See additional photo, from The Gazette and Daily, below.) Also of interest: All black history posts from the start and York’s West Princess Street in 1950s: ‘I knew there was something special about that area’ and Add another achiever to the list of York countians with impressive resumes .
Eighteen community members shown on the mural, “Civil Rights Heroes – Barrier Breakers”, will be honored as part of a black history event Saturday, Feb. 27, at the York County Heritage Trust.
Eighteen people who fought the good fight, using a diversity of styles, will be recognized.
And the story of Maurice Peters Sr., one of the 18, is one of the most interesting… .

Maurice Peters Sr. tells community members about the Peaceful Committee for Immediate Action’s plans to picket York City Hall in 1963.
Maurice Peters was chair of the Peaceful Committee for Immediate Action, the group that brought issues facing the black community before York City’s leaders in the 1960s.
The group protested in a manner that was true to its name.
Despite yeoman’s work as chair of the group, Maurice Peters is often remembered today for a forceful act years before.
In 1948, some in the black community protested the prohibition of their swimming in the all-white Boys Club Pool, later the Farquhar Park Pool. Maurice Peters took issue with the policy by jumping into the pool. That action led to his ejection shortly thereafter and long memories of his protest.
But Maurice Peters is remembered for another reason.
He was the father of Maurice Peters Jr., known to the world as Abdul Alim Muhammed.
Peters Jr. graduated with distinction from West York Area High School in 1966 where he was a National Merit Scholar, skilled musician and noted poet. He later graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and went on to a successful career as a surgeon.
In 1980, he met Louis Farrakhan, a leader of the Nation of Islam, and Farrakhan gave Peters his present name. Eight years later, Dr. Muhammed became the national spokesman for Farrakhan. He later ran for Congress in Maryland’s 5th District, the Nation of Islam’s first candidate for the U.S. House.
Check out all York Town Square blog posts from the start.
Sources: York County Heritage Trust Library and Archives; James McClure’s “Almost Forgotten”; Jim Kalish’s “The Story of Civil Rights.” Interview, Wm. Lee Smallwood.