York Town Square

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Part I: How we can further disrupt discrimination in York County

This three-panel mural titled ‘Civil Rights Heroes – Barrier Breakers’ has been branded a ‘traveling mural’ since its unveiling in 2005. And it has lived up to its name. Now, its travels may stop – or at least receive fewer bookings – now that it has been gifted to the York County Heritage Trust. The York City Human Relations Commission donated the murals to the Trust this week. Also of interest: Scholarly Journal carries story of the York Charrette.

This post – plus the following two – were adapted from my remarks at the York City Human Relations Commission’s 30th annual Frederick D. Holliday Celebration last week.

The evening was divided into perspectives on the past, present and future, so I carved up a recent York Sunday News colum exploring York County’s attitudes toward race in the same manner.

Today, the past:

Main point: Since its founding in 1749, York County’s location as a border county in a border state abutting Maryland and the South made it a transportation hub and, thus, aided agricultural and business interests.

But the Mason-Dixon Line did not bar racial ideas from the South from crossing onto York County soil.

Quotable: Historian Mark Snell: “The (Northern Central) railroad tied York County’s economic interests to the South before the (Civil) war, and for this reason many county inhabitants were reluctant to voice any opposition to slavery and the southern way of life. But York Countians had more in common with the South than just a penchant for southern money. They also shared many of the same values and political ideals of their southern neighbors.”

Impact: York countians, steeped in the political traditions of slaveholding Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, voted against Republican Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and 1864. The county, thus, politically aligned itself with the South in a time of national crisis.

Also of interest

York County, Pa.’s, ‘Civil Rights Heroes – Barrier Breakers’ Mural
Images capture hope for racial harmony in York County.
York Charrette or charade?.
York, Pa.: ‘It’s a midsize city with an interesting history’.