Back in middle school, I volunteered with the Fairfield County Historical Society. They were working on a project on African-American history in the area. They gave us all (the volunteers) a series of handouts that put some light on the role the black community has played in Lancaster. The other day, I came across them. Below are some things that caught my eye. If you want further references, please e-mail me.
- Starting in 1924, blacks could only swim at Miller pool on Saturday nights.
- During the 1950’s and early 1960’s Mary Burnham, associated with the YMCA, was instrumental in providing activities for black youth by permitting them to use Y facilities when it was available.
- Before desegregation, South Elementary School had split sessions. White students would go to class in the morning and black students would use the same facilities in the afternoon.
- To protest the Civil Rights movement, the Ku Klux Klan held a wedding at Rising Park, on top of Mount Pleasant.
- At least nine Lancasterians were present at Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech
- Sometime between 1924 and 1929, with the help of Father Mario, the Catholic Church helped bring the NAACP to Lancaster and held a panel discussion at the Elk lodge.
- A NAACP chapter wasn’t started in Fairfield County until 1965 with the help of Grant Groggin. Groggin, after removing burnt crosses from the top of Mount Pleasant, was threatened by the Ku Klux Klan. Groggin was also monitored by the FBI via wiretaps.
- Many blacks left Lancaster after returning from the war in Vietnam, finding nothing to return to.