The predictable past: The York County race riots

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Southern New Hampshire University
York County, much like the rest of the nation, experienced political and societal strife during the Civil Rights Movement. Certain locations received national media attention due to the events that occurred. Although York did not receive media coverage to the extent that other locations did, York and its citizens were impacted by previous events that directly led to its predictable past: the race riots. The race riots became a predictable and inevitable future due to the consistent racial unrest, societal and political limitations, gang violence, and the questionable tactics used by the York City Police Department. The United States continues to address racism today and York is no stranger to this problem either. However, York’s location makes it particularly unique. York is a county within Pennsylvania, which is considered a part of the North and was a Union state during the Civil War. It borders the Mason-Dixon Line, which separated the Union from the Confederacy. Although this border separated slave states from free states, it is clear that ideals, values, and principles easily passed over this line, which greatly influenced the history of York, Pennsylvania. This examination seeks to detail how York’s location, historical racial events, societal limitations, and inaction caused the race riots in York County to become a matter of when, rather than a matter of if. In order to achieve this goal, a thesis and curriculum workshop were created to foster a greater understanding of those events. The thesis includes the research information, while the curriculum workshop, located in the appendix, seeks to educate students on local racial history. Students will complete specific activities led by an educator within the classroom, while also having the opportunity to schedule a walking tour with the York Historical Society. With this understanding, residents in and outside of York County will gain a new perspective that illuminates how societal and cultural obstacles impacted the history of York County, Pennsylvania. (Author abstract)