On the Monday January 15th, 2018 edition of WITF’s Smart Talk:
Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – a day when we remember the contributions and legacy of a man who rose above the violence and hatred of his era to demand equality through peace. We celebrate this day on January 15th, his birthday. This April will mark the 50th anniversary of his death, assassinated in Memphis at the age of 39.
His message inspired Americans of all colors to fight for equal rights and in some Central Pennsylvania communities, it was a hard fight. While Pennsylvania wasn’t like the South with overt Jim Crow laws, institutional segregation did exist, and communities in the region had developed deep racial divides. By the summer of 1969 there was enough tension in York to spark riots between many white and black residents.
Protesters in front of York City Hall in 1970. York County History Center (photo:ydr)
In the 21st Century, there have been gains in civil rights and racism may not be as overt as it was in Dr. King’s lifetime (although overt racism can still be found) but many African-Americans feel there are still barriers to equal opportunities for them and believe they are harassed and assaulted by police at a greater rate than whites.
On Monday’s Smart Talk, we discuss the legacy of Dr. King in central state communities with Dr. Nathaniel Gadsden, a Harrisburg native and Senior Pastor of Imani African Christian Church. We will also be joined by Dr. Dorothy King, an assistant professor of sociology at PSU-Harrisburg and the Reverend Frank Allen, president of the Greater Harrisburg chapter of the NAACP and pastor of the First Zion Baptist Church.
Black Lives Matter demonstrators in Harrisburg in 2015 (PennLive: James Robinson)