Spring on the York College campus

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Untold Stories

Untold Stories, an event featured in the Hidden Figures series
York has been the scene of well-known historic events but some stories about people from communities of color have been lost or forgotten. The illustration below shows a crowd gathered in Centre Square, York, in 1863. Inside the P.A. & S. Small Hardware Store, leading citizens, including businessman A. B. Farquhar, debated what to do as the Confederates approached. What other stories remain untold?

York College is remembering the 1969 race revolts in York, Pennsylvania, by filling in some of the untold stories of our communities of color. As Professor of History at the College, and author of the book, The Great Uprising: Race Riots in Urban America during the 1960s, Peter Levy recognizes the value of what history teaches us, but he is cognizant that we have a lot more to learn. He is understandably delighted that the College and the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) have joined forces with partners such as the City of York, York History Center, and Crispus Attucks’ Goodridge Freedom Center, to construct a more complete version of York’s history in a yearlong series of events called York’s Hidden Figures: Reflections on our Communities of Color and Underserved Populations.

While commemorating the suffering caused by the turbulent past is appropriate and necessary, this series of events will focus upon the too-often neglected contributions of diverse populations, past and present. CCE Dean Dominic DelliCarpini, Ph.D., invites people to come and see, hear, and contribute to York’s Hidden Figures, which, he says, is a celebration of York’s communities of color and underserved populations.


Soledad O’Brien, a champion of diversity who has given voice to the underserved and disenfranchised through her Emmy-winning reporting and acclaimed documentary series, “Black in America” and “Latino in America,” opened York’s Hidden Figures on September 12, when she spoke about “Facing History: Why Real Stories of Real People Matter in the Public Record.” (Read more about her appearance in the story on the opposite page).

Casting Shadows: A Visual Exhibition and Celebration of York’s Black American History will run through September 2019, at the College’s CCE. In preparation, artist Ophelia Chambliss conducted research and held conversations with York’s residents. More than 20 original works of art highlight the historic vitality of the York community. It is an exhibition about York’s African-American leaders and history and it is also a project designed to change the narratives told about black history and the black community.

In “Reflecting on York’s Race Revolts,” Professor Levy will examine the causes and consequences of York, Pennsylvania’s 1969 race revolt, drawing upon what he learned while writing his book, The Great Uprising: Race Riots in Urban America during the 1960s. He’ll explore why it took place, how it compared to the other revolts that swept across the nation during the 1960s and ask how it has been remembered. His lecture and discussion will take place on February 6, 2019, on campus at the Waldner Performing Arts Center. He states, “My study of York’s 1969 riot grew out of, and benefited tremendously from, research that multiple York College students have conducted under my supervision during my nearly 30 years of teaching at York.” He acknowledges the help and support he received from many people in the community, from the archivists and librarians at the York History Center to the staff at Crispus Attucks.

The Human Library, a worldwide movement for social change, is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue. It is a place where real people are on “loan” to readers; a place where difficult questions are expected, appreciated, and answered. This event on March 30, 2019, at the CCE, will focus on ways to bring York’s hidden figures into a brighter, more empathetic light.

Looking for Mr. Goodridge is a collaborative and ongoing effort with the Goodridge Freedom Center, Crispus Attucks, the York History Center, and the CCE, to do archival research on one of York’s most intriguing characters, William C. Goodridge, a York business leader born in 1806, who became a friend of Frederick Douglass and a participant in the Underground Railroad. A video will document the efforts of York College interns who will work with leaders of the Goodridge Freedom Center, York History Center, and York College faculty, to collect and evaluate information to help make Goodridge more widely known.

(Re)Making York’s History will be a series of workshops where York’s citizens construct stories about the past, drawing upon artifacts gathered from their homes, neighborhoods, and associations with assistance from members of York College, the York History Center, the Goodridge Freedom Center, and the York community. Building upon a concept promoted in the Antiques Roadshow television series, this “artifacts roadshow” will be held at various locations throughout York.

Other events to look forward to include films showing at the Appell Center (listed in the sidebar on page 24).

If we dig deep enough, history has many layers of stories and voices waiting to be revealed. They deserve to be acknowledged, not buried or forgotten. Without them, we have an incomplete picture of who we are and a fragmented map to show where we are going. Events associated with York’s Hidden Figures: Reflections on our Communities of Color and Underserved Populations will help us uncover stories in our own backyard and help shed light on some shadowy corners of history. As Soledad O’Brien says, real stories of real people matter.