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Uniting to Prevent Targeted Violence program seeks members

A group of concerned citizens from Adams, Dauphin, Franklin, and York counties, Uniting to prevent targeted violence, will hold meetings over the next 18 months to discuss and seek ways to reduce targeted violence. The group is seeking citizen members to be involved in its work. Targeted violence refers to violence that is premeditated and directed at specific individuals, groups, or locations. Perpetrators select their targets to achieve specific motives, such as the resolution of a grievance or to make a political or ideological statement. The violence follows ideologicial, generational, religious, racial, and cultural divides. “Target violence is based on perceived identity,” said Adams County program coordinator Chad Collie.  “The goal is to build a strong group that can work at mitigating targeted violence.” “If we get real about it we’ve had some close calls,” said Collie. “The Ku Klux Klan has campaigned in GBG; Black Lives Matter has been on the Gettysburg Square. I hope and pray that we don’t see violence in this region again.  But it could very well happen. We never know where things can pop up. Our goal is to reduce risks by helping people understand.” The group will include a mix of liberal and conservative participants from each county, partnering with local organizations including Mediation Services of Adams County. Collie said the group has “a common focus to work with people who have very different opinions and perspectives,” and that the focus would be on building relationships, planning for action, communication, and taking action. “It doesn’t take a lot to build a group of people if you start with a group who want to make a difference,” said Collie. If you are interested in joining this project or have questions or want more information you may: Check out our FAQ! Attend an Information Session on Zoom on November 17 @ 5:30 pm ET and/or December 8 @ 5:30 pm ET (email our Chief of Staff, Logan Grubb, at logan@uraction.org for a meeting invitation and Zoom link), and/or ​Email your program questions to our Chief of Staff, Logan Grubb, at logan@uraction.org. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships.

Flyer posted in the Gettysburg College student union draws national attention

A flyer posted in the Gettysburg College student union last week announcing an event that never took place has put the college in the national news. The flyer asked people who were “tired of white cis men” to come paint and write about their feelings at an event to be held last Saturday. Editor’s note: “Cis” refers to “cisgender,” a term used to describe a person whose gender identity corresponds to their sex assigned at birth. It is not the same as “straight” or “heterosexual” which refer to being attracted to members of the opposite sex. The college distanced itself from the flyer and the event was canceled as the news about it went viral. The story was carried by Fox News, The Washington Examiner, the New York Post, and other news and social media outlets. The college said the event was created as part of a student project, that it did not endorse the event, and that it had asked the student “to restructure their project.” According to a story in the campus newspaper, The Gettysburgian, a student involved in the project said the event was created in part to draw attention to what they perceived as racist and homophobic events that had occurred on campus this semester. “In any community of our size, there will be a wide range of views. That creates a fertile educational environment, but it also means that there will be occasions where views expressed are controversial or inconsistent with the values of the community. That is inherent in the freedom we give to our students to find themselves and to express themselves,” said the statement from the college. Featured image: Gettysburg College student union [Gettysburg College]

Photo Gallery: 2022 Adams County Heritage Festival

The 31st Annual Adams County Heritage Festival was held yesterday on a bright sunny day with perfect weather. Hundreds of people came to the Gettysburg rec park to celebrate culture with music dancing, bike rides, food and more. The stage events were hosted by Mark Purdy, Master of Ceremonies, with Bob Ranalli as Sound Technician and Bob Keefer, Stage Manager. Performers included Rodney Yeaple, Bagpiper, an opening invocation by the Very Rev. Father Vasyl Marchak, proclamations by the Adams County Commissioners and Gettysburg Mayor Rita Frealing, followed by the River Rhythm Ramblers, Di Dim Sae and Washington Samulnori (Korean Drum and Dance), Oni Lasana (African and African American stories), and Los Monstros (Latin Fusion). The day also included children’s activities, cultural displays, the annual family bicycle parade, and the passport program where children learned learn about different people, places, and cultures as they had their visa stamped at each booth. The Adams County Heritage Festival was founded by the Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice, Gettysburg, PA and is presented in partnership with the YWCA of Gettysburg & Adams County. Here are some photos of the event, taken by Gettysburg Connection photographer Jim Bargas. Click on any photo to start the slideshow.

Sneak preview of this year’s Heritage Festival

The 31st annual Adams County Heritage Festival, scheduled for Sunday, September 18, from noon to 4:00 p.m. at the Gettysburg Rec Park, promises to be one of the best ever.  The planning committee has already signed formal contracts with three performing groups and awaits confirmation from a fourth.  On stage will be local musician Freya Qually and her “Rovin’ Rhythm Ramblers,” as well as a great Latino band from York, “Los Monstros.”  Festival planners are also featuring two other unique presentations for this year’s event. Oni Lasana, a professional storyteller from Coatesville, will be sharing both African and African American stories, a performance that the whole family will enjoy.  A combined Korean dance and drumming group, “Di Dim Sae with Washington Samulnori,” will be both colorful and exciting.  Korean performers will be a first for Gettysburg. The huge Korean drum, unlike anything in a Western band or orchestra, is itself a visual spectacle. Once again, the festival will feature a bicycle parade for children, a special Children’s Activities area, and the highly popular Passport Program linked with international displays. Ethnic food has always been a part of our Heritage Festival, as have many non-profit booths, and both will continue at this year’s Festival. Recording native languages other than English, spoken by Adams County residents, is also planned.  As always, the festival is looking for food vendors and craft vendors and demonstrators, as well as cultural ambassadors willing to set up an exhibit table representing a particular country or culture. For more information, contact Festival Chair Bill Collinge at 717-334-0752. The Adams County Heritage Festival is co-sponsored by the Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice and the YWCA Gettysburg and Adams County.

Gettysburg Celebrates Juneteenth

Gettysburg celebrated Juneteenth today with a Parade and Jamboree.   The festivities began at noon when an interracial group of about a hundred people congregated in front of the Ploughman Taproom on Lincoln Square.  Opening  remarks were provided by the event’s MC, Larock Hudson, who explained that Gettysburg’s first Juneteenth celebration was planned by a local organization called Indigenous Glow three years ago and that Juneteenth became an official borough event two years ago. Indigenous Glow Director Blessing Shahid kicked off the event by singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the Black National Anthem, a rousing hymn celebrating African American culture composed in 1899 by James Weldon Johnson. This was followed by remarks from Chaundre Franklin, who had been named Miss Gettysburg Juneteenth 2022. Shahid, Franklin, and other VIPs wore traditional 19th century garb, which added a beautiful air of pomp to the festivities. The next speaker, Mayor Rita Frealing, fittingly noticed that while Juneteenth started among Black Texans, it is relevant throughout the country to all people, and is especially germane in Gettysburg, where we commemorate a battle that played such a pivotal role in America’s quest for freedom.  “The day was a recognition of the importance of Juneteenth, said Frealing when contacted after the event. “It was a celebration showcasing Gettysburg and our diverse community. I was impressed by the police involvement and their interaction with participants.” Next on the agenda was a parade, which was led by a horse-drawn carriage in which Ms. Shahib and other Indigenous Glow members, all dressed in traditional 19th century vestments, sat, smiling and calling out “Happy Juneteenth!” to passers-by.  “I want to point out how liberating it felt to ride through the town with other Black sisters in Victorian attire,” said Shahid. “It was an amazing feeling and I would love to see more women of color join us each year.” Shahid also thanked the many volunteers who made the event possible. The Parade route visited significant sites in Gettysburg’s African-American history: St. Paul’s AME Zion Church; Jack Hopkin’s house; the Mayor’s home; the Franklin Street School; and Lincoln Cemetery. At each stop, experts made comments, educating those assembled about Gettysburg’s rich heritage of Black history. The Parade ended at the rec park where Mama Gail Clouden, a non-denominational spiritual leader, led a libation ceremony honoring ancestors. At this point, the day’s tone turned from educational to festive. Families and friends availed themselves of vendors selling Afrocentric clothes and accessories; soul food, Jamaican food, and Puerto Rican food. Children played on a water slide and on a giant trampoline.  A rich mix of rhythm and blues music, provided by a DJ as well as by professional singers including Corey Wims. entertained the public until 6:00 pm.  The joyous and respectful day demonstrated that, as one sign proclaimed, “Black History is American History.”

Hayes, Shahid, and Gagliardi win 2022 Peacemaker Awards

The Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) recognized the 2022 winners of its Peacemaker Awards at a ceremony on the Lutheran Seminary campus this evening. This year’s honorees were Yeimi Gagliardi, who received the Lifetime of Peacemaking Award, and Blessing Shahid and Alex Hayes, who received Peacemaker of the Year Awards. Hayes, nominated by Rukhsana Rahman, stepped down in February after sixteen years at the Gettysburg Times including nine years as managing editor. His work was characterized by a dedication to local journalism and his fair and even-handed coverage of controversial issues. Hayes has been active in local community organizations, including Manos Unidas, the Rotary Club of Gettysburg, Healthy Adams County, and the St. Francis Xavier Parish Council. Hayes is now Fund Development Director for the YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County, for which he had worked part-time for fifteen years. Introducing Hayes, Darren Glass said he had made a difference in the community through his work at the Gettysburg Times. “Alex made sure the Times stayed non-partisan,” he said. Glass said Hayes normally worked behind the scenes but that when he spoke out “people knew he meant it.” Glass also noted Hayes’ work at the YWCA, including producing the annual “Dancing with the Stars” competition and helping create the July 4 fireworks event at the rec park. “Alex believes in the power of dialogue and communication,” said Glass. “He believes the best way to solve a problem is to get people together.” F. Blessing Shahid, nominated by Jan Powers, was honored for her work in promoting awareness of African American history. Shahid is the founder of the Gettysburg celebration of Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Shahid was instrumental in organizing the car parade for Martin Luther King Day in 2021, eliciting peaceful cooperation with the police. In 2022, during Black History Month, Shahid conducted a Black History evening once a week for four weeks at the rec park’ Sterner building, where trivia games about black history and an assortment of books and games for children were featured. Speaking about Shahid, Melissa Rosenberger said she had “taught her when to speak up and stand up.” Shahid said America has had a long history of silencing and diminishing the voice of Black people.” Although she thought Gettysburg was a “beautiful community,” she nevertheless said she and her children had experienced overt racism. She said she learned what it was like for her children to have no Black teachers when they moved to Gettysburg. Shahid said her job was to continue to fight for African American rights. “There is no pride without Black pride; There is no American history without Black history,” she said. Shahid invited everyone to attend this year’s Juneteenth celebration to be held this Saturday. Yeimi Gagliardi, nominated by Charles Stangor and Mikel Grimm, was honored for her unwavering service to the Hispanic community in Adams County. A native of Colombia, Gagliardi is Latino Health Educator at WellSpan Health and chairperson for the Latino Services Task Force and the Tobacco Prevention Task Force of Healthy Adams County. Gagliardi has overseen local initiatives including early childhood education, health literacy, family planning and reproductive health, addiction and recovery and access to healthcare. Speaking about Gagliardi, Stangor said she was calm and approachable, and seemed to be “continually riding a meditative wave while spinning a room full of china plates at the same time.” Stangor spoke of Gagliardi’s fundraising skills and said her newest project is a program to provide digital literacy to the Spanish population. “She’s unflappable and unstoppable; she rides a wave of good and caring for others; she takes life in stride while helping our Hispanic neighbors; and she makes our whole community better and stronger,” he said. ICPJ also belatedly publicly recognized 2020 award winners Vickie Corbett (Lifetime of Peacemaking), Chad-Alan Carr (Peacemaker of the Year), and the Gettysburg High School Amnesty International Student Group (Youth Peacemaker) and 2021 awardees Judy Leslie (Lifetime of Peacemaking) and Scott Hancock (Peacemaker of the Year). Each Peacemaker Award consists of a framed certificate and the donation of $250 worth of books or other materials to the Adams County Library in the honoree’s name. ICPJ invites nominations for the 2023 Peacemaker Awards. Please send them to ICPJ at icpj@icpj-gettysburg.org or P.O. Box 3134, Gettysburg, PA 17325. Featured image caption: Gagliardi, Hayes, and Shahid.

2022 Juneteenth Celebration and Parade Announced

An afternoon of activities and entertainment celebrating African American history and culture will be held on Sunday, June 19, 2022.  The events include a parade beginning on the Gettysburg Square at 12:00 p.m. and an afternoon of activities at the Gettysburg Recreation Park from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. Indigenous Glow/ I Glow Black,Inc. is hosting the event. Juneteenth is the day African American families, friends, and allies come together to celebrate Black liberation marked by the ending of enslavement in the United States of America. This tradition was started by newly-freed enslaved Blacks in Texas in 1865. Today, Black families in Texas use this date to host family reunions and family celebrations. The parade begins at the southwest corner of Lincoln Square in front of Ploughman Taproom and continues through sites of historic significance to the Gettysburg Black community, ending near the Sterner Building at the rec park. Afternoon activities will include an opening commemoration service led by local Pastor David Roberts of the Amos Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, and Moma Gail (Steward-Clouden) Universal Love priestess of Philadelphia. There will be obstacle courses, a dunk tank, bouncy houses, a game bus, story telling, line dancing, and a live concert. The day’s events will conclude with a live show from performers Cory Wims, Reg Duzit, and Blaqmel. Food trucks and ethnic jewelry vendors will be on hand. People are asked to bring lawn chairs and be mindful of those who may still be practicing Covid precautions. Check www.igloblack.com and igloblack@facebook.com for updates or contact Blessing Shahid or Larock Hudson at Indigenousglow@gmail.com

Yeimi Gagliardi, Blessing Shahid, Alex Hayes to receive Peacemaker Awards

The Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) has chosen the 2022 winners of its Peacemaker Awards. This year’s honorees are Yeimi Gagliardi, who will receive the Lifetime of Peacemaking Award, and Blessing Shahid and Alex Hayes, both of whom will receive Peacemaker of the Year Awards. Winners will be honored at a ceremony on Monday June 13 at 7:00 p.m. in Valentine Hall Auditorium of the United Lutheran Seminary, Gettysburg. The public is invited, and refreshments will be served. Yeimi Gagliardi, nominated by Charles Stangor and Mikel Grimm, is honored for her longtime service to the Hispanic community in Adams County. Gagliardi is Latino health educator at WellSpan Health and chairperson for the Latino Services Task Force and the Tobacco Prevention Task Force of Healthy Adams County. She is also chair of the Manos Unidas Hispanic American Center and a board member of Vida Charter School and YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County. Gagliardi has overseen local initiatives including early childhood education, health literacy, family planning and reproductive health, addiction and recovery and access to healthcare. F. Blessing Shahid, nominated by Jan Powers, is honored for her work locally in promoting awareness of African American history. She is the founder of the Gettysburg celebration of Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Shahid was instrumental in organizing the car parade for Martin Luther King Day in 2021, eliciting peaceful cooperation with the police. In 2022, during Black History Month, Shahid conducted a Black History evening once a week for four weeks at the Rec Park building, where trivia games about black history and an assortment of books and games for children were featured. Alex Hayes, nominated by Rukhsana Rahman, stepped down in February after sixteen years at the Gettysburg Times including nine years as managing editor. His work was characterized by a dedication to local journalism and his fair and even-handed coverage of controversial issues. Hayes has been active in local community organizations, including Manos Unidas, the Rotary Club of Gettysburg, Healthy Adams County, and the St. Francis Xavier Parish Council. Hayes is now Fund Development Director for the YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County, for which he had worked part-time for fifteen years. Covid-19 prevented ceremonies in 2020 and 2021, but any of the awardees from those years who are present will be recognized at the 2022 ceremony. The 2020 award winners were Vickie Corbett (Lifetime of Peacemaking), Chad-Alan Carr (Peacemaker of the Year), and the Gettysburg High School Amnesty International Student Group (Youth Peacemaker). The 2021 awardees were Judy Leslie (Lifetime of Peacemaking) and Scott Hancock (Peacemaker of the Year). The late Pastor Jay Zimmerman was honored with a posthumous Lifetime of Peacemaking Award. Each Peacemaker Award consists of a framed certificate and the donation of $250 worth of books or other materials to the Adams County Library in the honoree’s name. ICPJ invites nominations for the 2023 Peacemaker Awards. Please send them to ICPJ at icpj@icpj-gettysburg.org or P.O. Box 3134, Gettysburg, PA 17325. Featured image caption: Hayes, Gagliardi, and Shahid.

Hispanic community celebrates family health at inaugural “Celebrate Your Health” day

Hispanic Health Fair May 2022

Dozens of Hispanic families came to the Ballroom at Gettysburg College on Sunday for the first ever “Celebrate your Health Day.” The event, sponsored by Collaborating for Youth, Wellspan, Casa de Cultura, and Amerihealth Caritas, included an obstacle course, bouncy house, and games for children, as well as crafts, yoga, dance, fitness training. Also available were mammograms provided by Wellspan and pediatric COVID vaccinations, COVID booster shots, blood pressure monitoring, and blood sugar screenings provided by the PA Dept. of Health. The event was also filled with tables staffed by local organizations that provided information to help people improve their mental and physical health. “My goal was to reimagine an event that would take place every year prior to Covid” said Latino community outreach coordinator Grace Bushway from the college’s Center for Public Service. Bushway collaborated with Wellspan Health Educator Yeimi Gagliardi and others to create the event. Gagliardi said her mission is to make everyone aware of the resources they have access to and make sure they make their physical and mental health a priority. Gagliardi said immigrant communities are often unaware of the resources in their community and their rights regarding services, so they shy away from seeking help. Through events like these they can receive the information they need to receive needed medical attention. Gagliardi focuses on teaching individuals how to access services such as health care, translation services, and transportation services to fulfill their health care needs. “We are lucky to have two federally qualified health centers here in Adams County that provide services to anyone regardless of their ethnicity or legal status,” she said. “If anyone is looking for further information regarding health care, they can always reach out to me, and I can point them in the right direction. I am also a member of the Latina Services Tasks Force linked with Healthy Adams County and we hold a Thursday night Zoom meeting to spread new information. To join these zoom meetings all you have to do is email me and I will send over the link,” said Gagliardi. Gagliardi can be contacted at Ygagliardi@wellspan.org. A complete list of organizations that participated in the health day: Adams County Head Start, Central PA Food Bank, Childrens Health and Nutrition Tasks force, Collaborating for Youth, Dance Fitness, HACC, Central PA Community College, Health Adams County, Keystone Agriculture Worker Program, Luv Yourself Yoga, Migrant Education Program IU5, PA Department of Health, Pathstone, PA immigrant Resource Center, ProtectPA, The Gleaning Project, VIDA Charter School, YWCA Hanover Safe Home, and WellSpan Mobile Mammography.

LASD responds to high school library book challenges using newly-upgraded policy

The Littlestown Area School District is making use of its newly-revised resource materials policy (Policy 109) to consider challenges to 35 books currently in the high school library. The challenges came over the past weeks in a set of 15 books followed by another set of 20 books. District Superintendent Chris Bigger said the challenges were from Janell Ressler and that each was submitted on a separate form for the district’s consideration, as specified in Policy 109. Bigger said the policy, originally approved in 1990, was recently revised because it did not have a mechanism for challenges from the public and that the revisions took some time. “It takes time to put a quality product together, especially around an issue of constitutional rights. We’re thinking of it as a legal matter.” The updated policy specifies guidelines for the appropriateness of resources and an eleven-step process for handling complaints. Bigger said the district had created two committees, operating in parallel, which reviewed the first set of books “in a reasonable amount of time.” Each committee was made up of either a high school principal or assistant principal, along with three teachers and a parent. Five of the challenged books, “Looking for Alaska” by John Green, “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls, “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, and “Monday’s Not Coming” by Tiffany D. Jackson had already been approved by the school board as part of the current curriculum and were not reviewed. The committees evaluated the other 10 library books, “Sold” by Patricia McCormick, “Shine” by Lauren Myracle, “Stamped” by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X Kendi, “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson, “The Bluest Eyes” by Toni Morrison, “Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chboski, “The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo, “ttylb” by Lauren Myracle, and “L8R G8R” by Lauren Myracle. Bigger said Ressler’s objections to the first 10 books focused mostly on obscenity and/or mature content. The committee decided that each book did not violate standards and should therefore remain on the shelves.  Ressler has appealed the decisions.  According to the policy the appeal will be reviewed by the district’s Curriculum, Co-Curriculum, and Policy Committee and then, if necessary, by the full school board. Bigger said the committee members were trained to evaluate the books objectively, using a standard established by the U.S. Supreme Court case Miller v. California. The “Miller Test” for obscenity includes the following criteria: (1) whether ‘the average person, applying contemporary community standards’ would find that the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ appeals to ‘prurient interest’ (2) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and (3) whether the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. The committee also took guidance from the American Library Association Bill of Rights. “We worked really hard to eliminate personal beliefs during the process,” said Bigger. “The policy helps the committee determine what standards to use as they read the materials.  We work hard to keep bias and personal opinions out of the process.” Bigger said the committees took into consideration both community and age-based standards. “New York City and Littlestown might have different community standards,” he said. “And there is an age-appropriateness question.  A book with mature themes might be inappropriate for elementary school but still appropriate in a high school.”  Bigger said the policy ensured students’ access to books is decided by more than one person and therefore that any decisions to remove a resource would be more likely to stand up to any potential first amendment legal challenges. Explaining the district’s decision to keep the committee members’ names anonymous, Bigger said he was concerned about potential threats if the names were made public. He said some people had expressed concern due to the sensitive nature of the decisions and said it might be more difficult to get people to participate on the committees if their names were shared. “I don’t want people to be the discussion,” he said. Ressler has filed a right to know document requesting the names of the committee members.  Bigger said he thought parents should be involved in making the decisions. “We’re not forcing these books on anyone. The community level of the family should come into play. When we have difficult decisions to make we always provide options and opportunities. Whenever you give parents choices we all can find common ground. It is when choices are removed that you end up with fewer freedoms and liberties,” said Bigger. Bigger said one potential remedy would be to require a parental permission sign off form on the books in question but that students were already reading very few books from the high school library. “In six years only 660 books have been checked out of the library,” he said. “There’s only one copy of each book.”

What I learned at Peace and Justice Week

Gettysburg College’s 6th annual Peace and Justice Week was held last week. The event, which had the theme of “decolonization,” was attended by students and faculty from the college’s Peace and Justice Studies minor. According to the Miriam Webster Dictionary decolonization means to “free from the dominating influence of a colonizing power.” On the second day of the program I attended, along with about 25 students and their professor, a discussion titled “‘Un-Educate’ – Indigenous Rights in Popular American Education.” A short video was first shown about a concerned parent who asked her school district to provide a more complete history curriculum after discovering her elementary school child’s history book contained only one paragraph on Native American history. The overarching sentiment at the discussion that followed the film was that history and contributions of Native/Indigenous Americans as taught in the US schools (and those around the world) is not just blatantly deficient, but unconscionably misleading. Student participants said that although many of us may regard Native Americans as something of the past, and believe that their story belongs in history books, there is much to be said about them in the present. The students said Native Americans are living today with rich traditions and making important contributions to society including environmental activism.   Personally, I remembered my high school history education in the 1970s in Zambia described American Indians as ‘savages,’ and another student in the discussion said the same was true in some high schools today. Stereotypes about Native Americans were not limited to history books but include TV shows and movies. And the portrayal has not much improved over the decades. Millions around the world saw and still see “good” and “bad” indigenous characters. We did not see anything objectionable when in the television series “Little House on the Prairie,” Pa Ingalls says “That’s one good Indian!” To be considered “good” characters, Native Americans were expected to put the colonists’ needs above those of their own community; any behavior outside of this was portrayed as “evil,” “savage,” or “backward.” Ingalls later says, “When settlers come into a country, the Indians have to move on.” Stereotypes, when reinforced often enough, have been shown to affect how we view others, how we view ourselves, and what we think we know about other cultures. While it appears that we are living in a time of great division and fear of the ‘other’, we are also moving toward an awakening of the spirit, recognizing that our world can only survive and thrive if all of us are counted. It is also evident that each and every one of us must take individual responsibility to work towards this end goal, to ensure that everyone has the dignity they deserve. Together, we can do this through listening to and supporting each other. When the conversation involves intergenerational collaboration, that is icing on the cake.  Class members were asked to contribute to the Carlisle Indian School Project (Honoring the Children, Giving Voice to the Legacy) via Venmo. I had never tried before, but I stepped out of my comfort zone to start ‘Venmo-ing’. 

Peace and Justice Week keynote address focuses on U.S. “settler colonialism”

Decoloniality, anyone? This big-chewy-cookie of a word is the theme for the Sixth Annual Peace and Justice Week being held from March 21-26 on the Gettysburg College campus. On Monday, Dina Gilio-Whitaker, Lecturer of American Indian Studies at California State University San Marcos, provided the keynote for  the week with a lecture on “Decolonizing and  Indigenizing Environmental Justice” at 5:00 PM  in Mara Auditorium. Her 2019 book As Long As Grass Grows tells the story of Native American resistance to environmental injustice and urges activists to learn from that tradition. Gilio-Whitaker was introduced by Daniel Jones, student president of the campus Peace and Justice organization which sponsors the week.  Jones explained that the group is offering fabric art based in Native American traditions for sale during the week. Money raised from the sale will benefit community education programming at the Carlisle Indian School where Native American children taken from their families were housed and educated. The American environmental movement, Gilio-Whitaker argued, has been shaped by what she described as “settler colonialism” that dehumanized Native peoples and appropriated their land. The doctrine of Manifest Destiny, she said, legitimized this displacement and relocation of Native tribes. As an illustration of this doctrine she referenced the 1872 painting by John Gast entitled American Progress that portrays an angelic female figure dressed in a flowing white gown floating above the prairie at dawn. She carries a book symbolizing education and an unwinding roll of telegraph wire. Beneath her, settlers on the ground march westward while bare-chested Native Americans hold up torches to help light their way. This image of progress has distorted our understanding of American history, the speaker argued, meant “cultural death for Native American people,” and legitimized profound damage to  the American landscape and environment. This damage, she said, often affected Native people disproportionately and ranged from the disruption of salmon fishing with the building of dams in the Pacific Northwest to more than 1000 abandoned uranium mines, often on Native land, throughout the American West. Two things must happen now, she said, to “decolonize” the American environmental movement. First, Native American perspectives must be brought into our understanding of American history, and the whole story of that history must be told. Secondly, environmentalists and others must learn from Indigenous traditions and knowledge about the land. This knowledge is practical and not just theoretical and is usually based in a particular landscape. She cited the controlled burning of forests by Native Americans as an example of this practical knowledge. But this approach is also based on a set of principles, she said, that can be expressed as “the four R’s.” These are relationality, reciprocity, respect, and responsibility. Relationality recognized the importance of relationships between people and between people and nature. Those relationships should always be reciprocal. When you take something out, you must give something back. The first two R’s, she said, lead naturally to mutual respect and to a sense of responsibility both to the land and to one another. Peace and Justice Week continues with workshops for students on Tuesday and Wednesday and a tour of the Carlisle Indian school on Friday. On Thursday, March 24, photojournalist Eric Lee will present on Breathing through the Tear Gas: Documenting Unrest in the Nation’s Capital at 5:30 in Joseph Theater on the Gettysburg Campus. Featured image: American Progress by John Gast [Public domain, via Wikimedia]

Rising costs of climate change threaten to make skiing a less diverse, even more exclusive sport

Brian P. McCullough, Texas A&M University and Lance Warwick, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Watching skiers compete almost entirely on artificially made snow at the 2022 Winter Olympics, we found it hard not to think about climate change and what it will mean for the future of the winter sports industry – and who will be able to participate. Some resorts have launched diversity efforts to try to appeal to a wider community. Johannes Kroemer via Getty Images Ski areas are increasingly reliant on extensive snowmaking operations to keep their slopes open as the planet warms. A few degrees of warming can mean more days of rain instead of snow and shorter seasons. That reduces the operators’ revenue and raises their costs. Those costs, passed along to visitors in higher lift ticket and resort prices, directly affect who can afford to spend a day on the slopes skiing or snowboarding. As resorts’ costs rise, these already expensive sports risk becoming more exclusive and less diverse. Our research involves what’s known as intersectional sustainability in sports – looking at how to ensure they are both inclusive and environmentally sustainable. For ski resorts, intersectional sustainability means acknowledging that climate change may result in the unintended consequence of further entrenching the sports’ lack of diversity, and proactively seeking to prevent that. Adaptation is necessary, and expensive Creating artificial snow to adapt to climate change doesn’t come cheap. Holiday Valley, a small resort in Ellicottville, New York, has invested over $13 million in snowmaking equipment in the past 40 years. On top of that are the costs of energy, labor and piping in thousands of gallons of water a minute to run snowmaking machines. Even as snowmaking machines become more efficient, the overall cost is still significant. An analysis of the outlook for Blue Mountain, a ski resort in Ontario, Canada, offers a glimpse of the future. In a best-case scenario, if the world achieves the Paris climate agreement goal of limiting warming to under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F), Blue Mountain’s ski season is to likely shorten by 8% and its snowmaking efforts would have to almost double by 2050. The window of ideal weather for snowmaking would also reduce by 22%, meaning the resort would be making snow under less efficient conditions, which further drives up the cost. Those extra costs likely will show up in higher lift ticket and resort prices. Smaller resorts may be forced to take on debt to finance snowmaking equipment. High leverage ratios have been shown to reduce profitability for ski resorts. Some smaller ski areas have shut down, leaving fewer nearby options for skiing and snowboarding in some areas and reducing competition that could help keep prices in check. Resorts already struggle with diversity Alpine skiing and snowboarding resorts already draw criticism for their lack of diversity. In 2019-20, 69% of visitors who described themselves as skiers and 61% as snowboarders identified as Caucasian or white, according to Snowsports Industries of America. The organization found the most frequent participants are even less diverse. A separate survey by the National Ski Area Association found a wider difference: 87.5% of U.S. visits that season were individuals identifying as Caucasian or white, and only 1.5% were people identifying as Black or African American. The Snowsports Industries of America survey also found a wealth gap. More than 63% of skiers and 55% of snowboarders had an income over $75,000, almost double the median earnings of Americans. Some resort corporations, including Aspen Snowmass and Powdr, have committed to increasing diversity and inclusion at their resorts. Powdr, for example, has community initiatives in its “Play Forever” campaign that include awarding scholarships to help people attend their camps and a partnership with STOKED, a nonprofit that mentors young people from underserved communities who are interested in board sports. But among several other corporate-owned ski resorts, there is a noticeable lack of diversity efforts on their corporate websites. Eight resort companies included either no mention of diversity and inclusion or provided no evidence of initiatives supporting these efforts on their corporate websites. The results suggest to us that the rising costs of climate adaptation will leave many would-be skiers and snowboarders unable to enjoy the sports. Three tactics to improve diversity for the future As the climate changes, management practices can also change to keep the slopes accessible. One effective strategy is engaging and partnering with community organizations that focus on diversity and inclusion. By working with organizations engaged in the community, Powdr can connect with disadvantaged youth and introduce them to snowboarding and skiing, for example. [Over 150,000 readers rely on The Conversation’s newsletters to understand the world. Sign up today.] Ski resorts can also engage directly with nonprofits like the National Brotherhood of Skiers, whose mission is to develop and support athletes of color in winter sports, and communities that are underrepresented on the mountain to understand how decisions related to climate adaptation may have the unintended consequence of further entrenching inequalities. Resort corporations can also improve their connections with diverse communities by increasing the diversity of leadership and creating senior leadership positions in charge of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. By including diverse communities in the climate adaptation discussion, ski resorts have a better chance of achieving a future where snow sports are more accessible for everyone. Brian P. McCullough, Associate Professor of Sport Management and Director of the Laboratory for Sustainability in Sport, Texas A&M University and Lance Warwick, Graduate student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Celebrate Black History Month at the Gettysburg rec park

You’re invited to join together in a series of informal social events during February to learn about Black history. The meetings continue on Wednesday Jan. 16 and 23 from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. at the Sterner Building in the Gettysburg rec park. The family events include posters about Black history from around the world, guest speakers, children’s entertainment and story telling, dancing, a trivia contest, and food. On Wed. Jan 16 the speaker will be Scott Hancock from Gettysburg College. This year’s theme is Black Health and Wellness. For more information please email indigenousglow@gmail.com.

Gagliardi to present in Kiwanis speaker series

The Gettysburg Adams Kiwanis Club has announced a new monthly speakers series beginning on Monday, January 24 at its 7:00 p.m. meeting. The first speaker in the series will be Yeimi {Jaime) K. Gagliardi, a Latino health educator in Adams County for WellSpan Health and chairperson for the Latino Services Task Force and the Tobacco Prevention Task Force of Healthy Adams County where she leads and collaborates, with other community-based organizations, in the development, implementation and evaluation of initiatives to reach underserved communities in Adams County. In Adams County, she has overseen several initiatives including early childhood education, health literacy, family planning and reproductive health, addiction and recovery and access to healthcare. Gagliardi will be speaking about Manos Unidas and its contributions to Adams County. Immigrants have been part of Adams County for generations and have contributed to the community’s social and economic fabric and prosperity. Currently, close to 6% of the population in Adams County is of Hispanic descent. The majority work in our agricultural, food processing, and tourism industry. In 2007, group leaders from WellSpan Health, Healthy Adams County, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, and others collaborated in founding Manos Unidas, the Hispanic American Center to provide a more inclusive and welcoming community for immigrant families. Since then, Manos Unidas has provided programs including educational sessions about how to become U.S. Citizens, after-school programs for children K-12, youth empowering programs, English as a Second Language Classes, GED preparation classes, Tax Preparation Services, Immigration navigation services, and social service programs including a local food pantry to serve Spanish speaking families. Manos Unidas partners with many community-based organizations, including SCCAP, Gettysburg College Center for Public Services, Family First Health, Head Start, Migrant Education, Vida Charter School, to make sure families in Adams County are safe and thriving. Their goal is to join diverse cultures and open our doors to all regardless of where they come from.  Gagliardi graduated from Universidad Sergio Arboleda in Bogotá, Colombia with a Bachelor of Sciences Degree in Finance and Foreign Trade and holds a master’s degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies from American University in Washington D.C. She is a certified English to Spanish translator, certified personal trainer from the American College of Sports Medicine and Car Safety Technician from Safe Kids Worldwide and has 20 years of experience working with Latino communities in the United States. Gagliardi is currently a board member at the Family Health Council of Central Pennsylvania, the YWCA of Adams County, Hispanic American Center-Manos Unidas and the bilingual Vida Charter School in Adams County. She collaborates with Penn State Extension as a member of the Adams County Council. The meeting will take place at Destination Gettysburg (1560 Fairfield Road) at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 24 and is open to members of the public interested in finding out more about Kiwanis and service to our community. Kiwanis requests that all unvaccinated attendees wear a mask. For further information, contact Myra Reichart at mrreuichart@comcast.met or 717-398-2684.

Sidney Poitier – Hollywood’s first Black leading man reflected the civil rights movement on screen

Aram Goudsouzian, University of Memphis In the summer of 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. introduced the keynote speaker for the 10th-anniversary convention banquet of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Their guest, he said, was his “soul brother.” “He has carved for himself an imperishable niche in the annals of our nation’s history,” King told the audience of 2,000 delegates. “I consider him a friend. I consider him a great friend of humanity.” That man was Sidney Poitier. Poitier, who died at 94 on Jan. 7, 2021, broke the mold of what a Black actor could be in Hollywood. Before the 1950s, Black movie characters generally reflected racist stereotypes such as lazy servants and beefy mammies. Then came Poitier, the only Black man to consistently win leading roles in major films from the late 1950s through the late 1960s. Like King, Poitier projected ideals of respectability and integrity. He attracted not only the loyalty of African Americans, but also the goodwill of white liberals. In my biography of him, titled “Sidney Poitier: Man, Actor, Icon,” I sought to capture his whole life, including his incredible rags-to-riches arc, his sizzling vitality on screen, his personal triumphs and foibles and his quest to live up to the values set forth by his Bahamian parents. But the most fascinating aspect of Poitier’s career, to me, was his political and racial symbolism. In many ways, his screen life intertwined with that of the civil rights movement – and King himself. An age of protests In three separate columns in 1957, 1961 and 1962, a New York Daily News columnist named Dorothy Masters marveled that Poitier had the warmth and charisma of a minister. Poitier lent his name and resources to King’s causes, and he participated in demonstrations such as the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage and the 1963 March on Washington. In this era of sit-ins, Freedom Rides and mass marches, activists engaged in nonviolent sacrifice not only to highlight racist oppression, but also to win broader sympathy for the cause of civil rights. In that same vein, Poitier deliberately chose to portray characters who radiated goodness. They had decent values and helped white characters, and they often sacrificed themselves. He earned his first star billing in 1958, in “The Defiant Ones,” in which he played an escaped prisoner handcuffed to a racist played by Tony Curtis. At the end, with the chain unbound, Poitier jumps off a train to stick with his new white friend. Writer James Baldwin reported seeing the film on Broadway, where white audiences clapped with reassurance, their racial guilt alleviated. When he saw it again in Harlem, members of the predominantly Black audience yelled “Get back on the train, you fool!” King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. In that same year, Poitier won the Oscar for Best Actor for “Lilies of the Field,” in which he played Homer Smith, a traveling handyman who builds a chapel for German nuns out of the goodness of his heart. The sweet, low-budget movie was a surprise hit. In its own way, like the horrifying footage of water hoses and police dogs attacking civil rights activists, it fostered swelling support for racial integration. A better man By the time of the actor’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference speech, both King and Poitier seemed to have a slipping grip on the American public. Bloody and destructive riots plagued the nation’s cities, reflecting the enduring discontent of many poor African Americans. The swelling calls for “Black Power” challenged the ideals of nonviolence and racial brotherhood – ideals associated with both King and Poitier. When Poitier stepped to the lectern that evening, he lamented the “greed, selfishness, indifference to the suffering of others, corruption of our value system, and a moral deterioration that has already scarred our souls irrevocably.” “On my bad days,” he said, “I am guilty of suspecting that there is a national death wish.” By the late 1960s, both King and Poitier had reached a crossroads. Federal legislation was dismantling Jim Crow in the South, but African Americans still suffered from limited opportunity. King prescribed a “revolution of values,” denounced the Vietnam War, and launched a Poor People’s Campaign. Poitier, in his 1967 speech for the SCLC, said that King, by adhering to his convictions for social justice and human dignity, “has made a better man of me.” Exceptional characters Poitier tried to adhere to his own convictions. As long as he was the only Black leading man, he insisted on playing the same kind of hero. But in the era of Black Power, had Poitier’s saintly hero become another stereotype? His rage was repressed, his sexuality stifled. A Black critic, writing in The New York Times, asked “Why Does White America Love Sidney Poitier So?” That critic had a point: As Poitier himself knew, his films created too-perfect characters. Although the films allowed white audiences to appreciate a Black man, they also implied that racial equality depends on such exceptional characters, stripped of any racial baggage. From late 1967 into early 1968, three of Poitier’s movies owned the top spot at the box office, and a poll ranked him the most bankable star in Hollywood. Each film provided a hero who soothed the liberal center. His mannered schoolteacher in “To Sir, With Love” tames a class of teenage ruffians in London’s East End. His razor-sharp detective in “In the Heat of the Night” helps a crotchety white Southern sheriff solve a murder. His world-renowned doctor in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” marries a white woman, but only after winning the blessing of her parents. “I try to make movies about the dignity, nobility, the magnificence of human life,” he insisted. Audiences flocked to his films, in part, because he transcended racial division and social despair – even as more African Americans, baby boomers and film critics tired of the old-fashioned do-gooder spirit of these movies. Intertwined lives And then, the lives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Sidney Poitier intersected one final time. After King’s assassination on April 4, 1968, Poitier was a stand-in for the ideal that King embodied. When he presented at the Academy Awards, Poitier won a massive ovation. “In the Heat of the Night” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” captured most of the major awards. Hollywood again dealt with the nation’s racial upheaval through Poitier movies. But after King’s violent murder, the Poitier icon no longer captured the national mood. In the 1970s, a generation of “Blaxploitation” films featured violent, sexually charged heroes. They were a reaction against the image of a Black leading man associated with Poitier. Although his career evolved, Poitier was no longer a superstar, and he no longer bore the burden of representing the Black freedom movement. Yet for a generation, he had served as popular culture’s preeminent expression of the ideals of Martin Luther King. Featured image: Kingkongphoto & www.celebrity-photos.com from Laurel Maryland, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons [Get the best of The Conversation, every weekend. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.] Aram Goudsouzian, Bizot Family Professor of History, University of Memphis This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

History made as first African American becomes Gettysburg Mayor

216 years after it was founded in 1806, the historical site of a major Civil War Battle has inaugurated its first African American mayor. Rita Frealing was sworn in this afternoon as the mayor of the Borough of Gettysburg at the Borough Office Building on E. High St. by outgoing mayor Ted Streeter. Frealing is also the first woman to be Gettysburg mayor but it is her African American heritage that makes the event particularly symbolic in a location where over 23,000 Union Army soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured during a bloody battle for the civil rights of African Americans. “I’m very happy to be part of the community I love so much. I will serve as a bridge between the many facets of our community,” said Frealing. “The people know what the answers are and what the questions are. We should all work together as that community.” As her first duties, Frealing swore in returning councilmembers Patricia A. Lawson, Christopher M. Berger, Judith R. Butterfield, and newly-elected councilmember Chad-Alan Carr. Frealing was born in the Annie Warner Hospital in Gettysburg (now Gettysburg Wellspan Hospital) and attended St. Francis Xavier School and Gettysburg High School. Frealing said she was happy to be back in Gettysburg and looking forward to making a difference for the community. “This town molded me. It gave me experiences,” she said. She later attended Penn State University and earned a law degree from Penn State Dickinson School of Law. Frealing has contributed to the public good as Deputy Press Secretary for Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey and Director of Government Affairs for the Pennsylvania State Department of Education. She also served as Director of Press Relations for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. Frealing has also worked as a volunteer at the Gettysburg National Military Park, giving tours on the The Angle, Little Round Top, and the Peace Light, as well as portraying resident Mary Jane Biggs (Jackson) in Living History demonstrations of life in Gettysburg during the battle. Frealing was a TV and radio reporter and weekend weather anchor at WTPA Channel 27 (Now WHTM) and at WHP Channel 21, both in Harrisburg, and as weekend anchor for local radio stations WGET and WGTY. During its reorganization meeting, the council unanimously re-elected Wes Heyser as president and Matt Moon as vice president. Heyser said he was “proud to be part of the team and looking forward to a productive two years.” Streeter said that after 23 years in borough government and 6 years as mayor he felt “fulfilled” but that it was “time to go.” Streeter said Frealing was a “very competent, intelligent, and capable person.” The year’s first regular borough council meeting will be on Monday Jan. 10 at 7:00 p.m. Featured image shows Frealing as she is sworn in by Streeter [Community Media of South Center PA].

Pennsylvania revises Confederate markers, recasts forces as “enemy” soldiers

By Colin Deppen of Spotlight PA Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free newsletters. After removing a trio of Confederate historical markers an hour west of Gettysburg, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has replaced two with significant revisions that view Confederate milestones through a more critical lens. The McConnellsburg, Fulton County, markers and plaques commemorate the first deaths of Confederate soldiers in Pennsylvania and the site of the Southern army’s last encampment here. The state removed them in September of 2020, capping a review initiated by the state historical commission and Gov. Tom Wolf’s office following deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., three years prior. Two of the items have been revised to position the Union army more centrally in the historical narrative and to depict the Confederates as a destructive invading force. The items were reinstalled in May, said Howard Pollman of the commission, which oversees the state’s historical marker program. The third item — a bronze plaque dedicated by a neo-Confederate group before the commission gained oversight — will not be replaced. “The administration recognizes that some markers may contain outdated cultural references that must be addressed,” Wolf’s office explained in an email to Spotlight PA, adding, “These decisions are not made lightly or hastily.” The McConnellsburg changes are as follows: A plaque commemorating the final Confederate encampment in Pennsylvania will no longer be displayed by the state, having been “accessioned into PHMC’s collection for interpretive purposes.” The plaque was dedicated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a neo-Confederate group widely known for venerating the Southern army and whitewashing Civil War history. A historical marker with similar text and the same subject has been updated to include mention of the Union “routing” that followed for “the last Confederates to camp on Pennsylvania soil.” A historical marker commemorating the first Confederate deaths in Pennsylvania has been edited to emphasize Confederate raids and property thefts. It also now mentions the Confederate Army’s “invasion of Pennsylvania” and describes the Confederates as “enemy” soldiers. A prior version mentioned only a neutral-sounding “skirmish.” The marker’s title has been changed from “Confederate Dead” to “Gettysburg Campaign.” (A six-foot-tall roadside monument to the Confederate dead — erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy nearby — is not property of the state historical commission and was not part of the commission’s review, Pollman said.) Source: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, the commission took down a United Daughters of the Confederacy-backed plaque it inherited, the removal coming roughly 90 years after the piece was first erected. The plaque recognized a 19th-century penitentiary that housed the city’s “only Confederate prisoners of war.” The Incline reported the plaque was placed by the united daughters in 1931 and later surrounded by the National Aviary. It spent its final years in a cage with a bald eagle, a symbol of the United States since 1787 and one adopted by Union troops. Pollman said the Aviary asked that the plaque be removed “due to continual public inquiries expressing concern.” The state historical commission plans to relocate it to a nearby park with updated text. Some critics questioned the sensitivity around what is at face value a neutral historical acknowledgement, but Kirk Savage, a University of Pittsburgh art history professor and expert on Confederate monuments, told The Incline: “If the UDC is behind it, they thought of it as honorific.” The commission review of the state’s aging historical markers and plaques overlapped with a roiling national debate about the need for careful framing of Civil War and Confederate history. In an open letter published earlier this year, state Rep. Parke Wentling (R., Crawford), a commission appointee, said revisions and removals of state historical markers, such as those in McConnellsburg and Pittsburgh, were being “driven by woke cancel culture,” adding: “Not all history needs to be celebrated, but it needs to be remembered.” Wentling continued: “The problem dates back to 2018 when PHMC began an effort to instill Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access (DEIA) efforts into the internal operations of the commission, which bled over into a revisionist historical review of markers through the ideological DEIA lens, rather than one dedicated merely to historical significance.” Wentling’s office referred back to the letter when reached for additional comment by Spotlight PA. In 2017, weeks after the planned removal of a towering monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee touched off the deadly far-right rally in Charlottesville, Va., the Public Opinion newspaper in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, talked to area residents and found little to no clamor over the markers or the Confederate monument in Fulton County. Three years later, the commission’s announced review prompted an impassioned July 2020 town hall with local residents and lawmakers. “We’re working very hard to make sure that these monuments are staying right where they’re supposed to stay and that’s right here,” Republican state Sen. Judy Ward, whose district includes McConnellsburg, told the crowd. State Rep. Jesse Topper (R., Bedford) was also in attendance, and offered similar assurances. Reached by Spotlight PA, Topper called the state’s review of historical markers a solution in search of a problem. Topper said he appreciated that local input was involved in the process but added he was disappointed in the end result. “I just get concerned when bureaucracies step in and decide that they’re going to be the ultimate determinant of what is and what is not acceptable in terms of presenting history,” he explained by phone. Topper said he doesn’t take issue with the accuracy of the marker updates but rather that the updates are happening at all. Ward’s office declined comment. A search of Pennsylvania’s historical marker database shows dozens of markers with references to the Confederacy. According to Pollman, none of the others are being considered for retirement or replacement at this time. WHILE YOU’RE HERE… If you learned something from this story, pay it forward and become a member of Spotlight PA so someone else can in the future at spotlightpa.org/donate. Spotlight PA is funded by foundationsand readers like you who are committed to accountability journalism that gets results.

Pennsylvania Latinos work to turn huge population gains into political muscle, but still face barriers

By Kate Huangpu of Spotlight PA This article is part of a yearlong reporting project focused on redistricting and gerrymandering in Pennsylvania. It is made possible by the support of Spotlight PA members and Votebeat, a project focused on election integrity and voting access. LEHIGH VALLEY — Over the past five years, Victor Martinez has noticed more and more Hispanic-run businesses crop up on the route he drives to work. Martinez owns La Mega, a Spanish radio station located right outside of downtown Allentown. During his commute from his Macungie home, he’s seen new restaurants, hair salons, and bodegas. One restaurant located five minutes from his station, La Bicicleta, opened only two years ago and its Venezuelan arepas are now among his mainstays. The business boom reflects the rapid growth of Pennsylvania’s Latino population, which surpassed 1 million people according to the latest census — a 43% increase from a decade ago. The problem, Martinez said, is that growth in population has yet to translate into a rise in power and influence at all levels of government, in particular the state legislature. “As soon as the census came out, leaders in the Hispanic community, in Allentown and Reading, started calling each other and talking to each other on [how] we need to make sure we involve ourselves in every district conversation,” Martinez said. “Now we have it on paper. Now we can go and express to governments that our community needs and deserves to have representation.” To that end, Martinez has become one of the most vocal Latino advocates during this year’s redistricting process — a legally required redrawing of the state’s legislative districts based on the decennial census data. Far more than a bureaucratic exercise, redistricting can have enormous implications for which groups have the most voting influence in a given area, and which party — Democrats or Republicans — have the advantage come Election Day. There are more than 3 million people of color living in Pennsylvania, and these communities have powered the state’s population growth. Their gains more than offset the continued contraction of the white population, which fell by half a million during the past decade. In total, a quarter of the state’s residents now identify as non-white. Yet just 10% of the General Assembly’s 253 members identify as people of color. In 2015, that number was 9%. That’s why advocates like Martinez are increasingly getting involved. They see redistricting as an opportunity for political maps and voting power to more equitably represent the growth of certain communities. Martinez said he’s hopeful new lines could create at least two more legislative districts that could elect a Latino representative. “There’s zero in the Senate,” he said, “and there are only four Latinos in the House of Representatives.” Legal barriers To Martinez and other people of color, equitable representation is proven by a legislative assembly that is reflective of the demographics of the state. But demographic majorities, even in areas with minority enclaves, can be difficult to represent on maps due to communities being scattered or geographic barriers such as rivers or highways. The law can also create hurdles. Neither the Pennsylvania Constitution nor the U.S. Constitution explicitly requires that legislative districts demographically represent their constituents. The state constitution lists only three requirements: compactness, contiguity, and minimizing municipality splits. Federal regulations regarding redistricting are outlined by the 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Citing the Equal Protection Clause, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to use race as a predominant factor when drawing district lines. Separately, the Voting Rights Act prohibits vote dilution of minority communities, meaning consolidating or dispersing a minority community with the effect of reducing its voting power. But proving dilution is a tall order under the law. These protections can complicate efforts to create new districts and challenge current ones. “Unfortunately, the only tool in the federal toolkit that we have is the Voting Rights Act to protect marginalized communities,” Fulvia Vargas-De León, an attorney with legal advocacy group LatinoJustice, said. “Pennsylvania, like many other states, does not have clear guidelines, aside from contiguity and compactness, in terms of how they draw districts.” To address that difficulty, some mapmakers — such as the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, a panel of the top House and Senate leaders and an independent chair handling the General Assembly maps — have turned to “communities of interest” as an alternative. These are geographical areas where residents have common political goals. But the commission’s commitment to this principle is not legally binding, and because outlining such communities requires public input and feedback, advocates worry that there will not be enough participation throughout the process to produce fully representative maps. For Will Gonzalez — executive director of Ceiba, a coalition of Philadelphia Latino organizations — bringing such communities of interest to the attention of legislators is essential. For example, he said, Northeast Philly’s concentration of Latinos and Latino institutions, from nonprofits and churches to schools and businesses, must be kept together despite them not comprising a majority. “In those places that do not rise to that level of 50% plus one, [we] must make sure that they don’t get cut and divided,” Gonzalez said. “We want to be able to have communities of interest, who share in meeting the challenges and taking advantage of the opportunities that might present themselves to their communities through a unified representation in their legislature. “That’s why being part of the process in the beginning is really, really important.” ‘Divided in so many ways’ Preserving communities of interest is a common criterion across the country, and is used by more than half the states. The Legislative Reapportionment Commission has been accepting testimony from citizens outlining communities of interest on its website and at hearings it has hosted. Martinez has testified at three of those hearings, using Allentown — where 52% of residents are Hispanic or Latino — as his case in point. Lehigh County currently contains seven state House districts, only one of which is a majority-minority district. That area, District 22, encompasses most of Allentown and is currently represented by Peter Schweyer, a Democrat who has held the seat since 2015. Martinez believes the three districts that divide Allentown unfairly split up the Latino population, and he hopes his involvement might improve them. “We get divided in so many ways that we have no shot of representing ourselves,” Martinez said. “There is an opportunity to have someone that can represent us, that looks like us, that understands us, our culture, our community. And for me, that’s important because it means we’re in the room.” Schweyer pushed back against the idea that a district shape alone can ensure representation. “Communities of color as a redistricting principle is something that I strongly support,” he said. “I believe in representation. But at the same time, there’s no guarantee. We can’t just assume that just because we draw a [majority-minority] district — African American, Latino, what have you — that you’re going to guarantee somebody from that community is going to get elected.” In Schweyer’s district, Hispanics account for 56% of the population, while communities of color make up over 75% of the district overall. But some advocates argue that minority residents would be better served by districts in which they don’t make up more than 50% of the population If Schweyer’s district were broken into two, for example, that could create more opportunities for Hispanic voters to sway elections. This approach could also benefit communities that are not geographically concentrated enough to constitute a majority. Vargas-De León suggested that this approach might be more equitable, but the legality of such an approach is subject to debate. A critical mass Martinez’s participation in the redistricting process comes amid greater awareness of how consequential the process can be for communities. But to truly affect mapmaking and define communities of interest, Pennsylvanians must participate en masse in the process, something advocates doubt will happen for a host of reasons, from apathy to outright roadblocks. While the redistricting commission has solicited testimony from more than 50 citizen witnesses and opened an online portal to accept comments, the ability to give testimony is still limited by language barriers and time, among other constraints. Because of those hurdles, Vargas De-León has doubts that such a critical mass will step up. “Historically, redistricting is one of the ways that we have affected the voting power of marginalized communities,” Vargas De-León said. “It’s one of the silent tactics of sorts, I would say, because it’s not obvious when it’s done. But it’s part of the toolbox to keep these communities disenfranchised.” In Lehigh County, advocates for Latino residents say disengagement with the political process stymies representation. Diana Robinson of Make the Road Pennsylvania, an organization dedicated to organizing working-class Latino voters, said the system works against them. Commission hearings that lacked translation, as well as Spanish instructions to voters in Berks County that had the wrong mail ballot return date, are typical examples of carelessness, Robinson said. “It goes beyond just ensuring there’s Latinx representation, but also having representatives and the ability to elect representatives that also share our values,” Robinson said. Martinez remains hopeful his testimony will be reflected in the initial drafts of maps. Although the Pennsylvania Constitution sets a Jan. 12 deadline, lawmakers have expressed a desire to expedite the process and release initial maps within the next few weeks. “If it was easy, anybody could do it,” Martinez said, referring to the commission. “That’s what they signed up for. So, we have to make sure we hold them accountable.” WHILE YOU’RE HERE… If you learned something from this story, pay it forward and become a member of Spotlight PA so someone else can in the future at spotlightpa.org/donate. 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Pasa La Voz provides news and Information to local Hispanics via text messages

Pasa La Voz Message Archive Gettysburg Connection partners with Casa de Cultura, Collaborating for Youth, Manos Unidas, South Central Community Action Programs (SCCAP) and other local agencies to share information to Spanish-speaking populations in Adams County and the surrounding area through the Pasa La Voz program. Pasa La Voz is supported in part by a grant from the American Press Institute. “Pasa La Voz” (Spanish for “Spread the Word”) is a free, participatory local news service providing empowering information to Adams County’s Latino community through text messages. Each week, our subscribers receive news, resources, and other information on issues such as health, housing, education, emergency preparedness, and immigration, and also have the opportunity to share their questions, concerns, and stories on the issues that concern them. Share a flyer in English Comparte un volante en español At least four thousand Adams County residents are of Hispanic origin and the Latino community is growing faster than other demographic groups in the county. At the same time, options for Spanish-language news have diminished. For many of the county’s Latino residents, limited news broadcasts from Univision and Telemundo are the extent of “local” news. Many local news websites around the country have found an answer to filling this gap in text messaging. Why Text Messages? Information from news sources around the country suggests that when members of the Hispanic community are asked where they get news and information, websites rank low on the list. So, too, do email and Twitter. It is clear a news outlet designed for Latinos must look different from other news sources (one possibility is a Spanish-language Facebook news page, but there are concerns about misinformation and rumors that circulate on that platform). Text messages provide a low-cost and effective way to quickly send news and information to community members. While not everyone has a home computer or email address, nearly everyone has a cell phone. Actionable News and Two-Way Communication Local residents often feel disempowered and look for information that can help them take action. We believe that what residents want is “más información que la gente puede usar” (“more information people can use”). That is, if the issue of the day is about housing displacement, don’t just tell me how many people have been evicted from my community. Tell me what to do when I get an eviction notice, or how I can voice my opinion to local officials. Our goal is to share resources that are relevant to Hispanic residents, not simply a repetition of English-language news. We focus on one issue each week, providing actionable information while also inviting our audience to share their questions, stories, or concerns on the topic at hand.

Today is Juneteenth: Do you know its historical legacy?

On “Freedom’s Eve,” or the eve of January 1, 1863, the first Watch Night services took place. On that night, enslaved and free African Americans gathered in churches and private homes all across the country awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect. At the stroke of midnight, prayers were answered as all enslaved people in Confederate States were declared legally free. Union soldiers, many of whom were black, marched onto plantations and across cities in the south reading small copies of the Emancipation Proclamation spreading the news of freedom in Confederate States. Only through the Thirteenth Amendment did emancipation end slavery throughout the United States. But not everyone in Confederate territory would immediately be free. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as “Juneteenth,” by the newly freed people in Texas.  Emancipation Day celebration, June 19, 1900 held in “East Woods” on East 24th Street in Austin. Credit: Austin History Center. The post-emancipation period known as Reconstruction (1865-1877) marked an era of great hope, uncertainty, and struggle for the nation as a whole. Formerly enslaved people immediately sought to reunify families, establish schools, run for political office, push radical legislation and even sue slaveholders for compensation. Given the 200+ years of enslavement, such changes were nothing short of amazing. Not even a generation out of slavery, African Americans were inspired and empowered to transform their lives and their country. Publishers throughout the North responded to a demand for copies of Lincoln’s proclamation and produced numerous decorative versions, including this engraving by R. A. Dimmick in 1864.  National Museum of American History, gift of Ralph E. Becker Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day. Although it has long celebrated in the African American community, this monumental event remains largely unknown to most Americans. The historical legacy of Juneteenth shows the value of never giving up hope in uncertain times. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a community space where this spirit of hope lives on. A place where historical events like Juneteenth are shared and new stories with equal urgency are told.

The Black Influence – Series 3 – Gettysburg’s Underground Railroad

Black History in Adams County cannot be complete without paying respect to the escaped slaves that followed the Underground Railroad (UGRR) through Adams County. The National Park Service describes the UGRR by saying: “Beginning in the 17th century and continuing through the mid-19th century in the United States, enslaved African Americans resisted bondage to gain their freedom through acts of self-emancipation. The individuals who sought this freedom from enslavement, known as freedom seekers, and those who assisted along the way, united together to become what is known as the Underground Railroad.” Underground Railroad (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov) Freedom seekers in the south often headed north aiming for Philadelphia or even Canada. It is speculated that thousands of freedom seekers found themselves traveling through Adams County on their treacherous journey to freedom. Due to the Fugitive Slave Law enacted in the 1790s it was illegal to hide escaped slaves. The punishment increased in the 1850’s, becoming punishable by jail time and a $1,000 fine (that’s comparable to over $34,200 today). Regardless, there were over 680 Underground Railroad stops that have been historically confirmed, four of which are in Adams County. The first location is the McAllister’s Mill in Cumberland Township. The Mill is on the western border of Mt. Joy Township. It sits on private property (available by tour on Saturdays through August UGRR Site at McAllister’s Mill (hgaconline.org) and located behind the old Mulligan MacDuffers Adventure Golf. The McAllister Mill has a full circle relation to Black History. On July 4, 1836, the first abolitionist meeting was held at the McAllister Mill. The group formed the Adams County Anti-Slavery Society. Then the Mill became a hiding place for freedom seekers. “How ironic that less than two decades later the First Blood of the Battle of Gettysburg and the war over slavery, would be on his [the McAllister] farm”, says historian Debra Sandoe McCauslin, an ancestor of private George Sandoe, who was the first Union soldier to die at Gettysburg. At the McAllister’s Mill, the escaped slaves hid in the cog pit, a dirt rut under the basement of the mill. Conditions were not inviting. The area could be wet, hot and humid, or cold at night. Other areas to hide were in tiny caves along the creek. Regardless of cramped quarters or atmosphere, the freedom seekers hid. The Adams County Anti-Slavery Society appeared not to have Black members; however, the St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church of Gettysburg started the Slave’s Refuge Society. Although the church is not historically confirmed as a stop on the UGRR, it was noted that they tasked themselves to assist fellow African Americans seeking freedom. Leaving the McAllister Mill, freedom seekers would head north to the next UGRR stop, which might have been to meet Edward and Annie Mathews on Yellow Hill. Yellow Hill was located nine miles north of Gettysburg. The Mathews were African American and Yellow Hill was home to hundreds of African Americans from the 1700s to the 1920s. It is possible other Black families assisted in the UGRR but their involvement is not known due to lack of written evidence. The Mathews would have taken the freedom seekers to the home of Cyrus and Mary Ann Griest, the third Adams County UGRR site. In the 1930s, Alexander W. Griest, predecessor to Cryrus Griest, shared a memory during an interview, “In the middle of the night, Mathews took them [the escaped slaves] to the home of Cyrus Griest and hid them in the springhouse. Mathews then tapped on the Griest’s bedroom window to let him know that he had guests … The women would feed the freedom seekers in the morning.” He remembered this happening about twice a month in the summer but never in the winter. Other freedom seekers would go to the home of William and Phebe Wright, Quakers from York Springs, which is the fourth historically proven UGRR in Adams County. This was the fourth stop on the UGRR in Adams County. The Wrights aided hundreds of escaped slaves to safety. The most well known is James W. C. Pennington. He went on to become a minister, writer, and abolitionist.    Pennington stayed in Adams County with the Wrights from Autumn of 1828 to April 1829. He learned to read, write, and cipher, a method to transform writing to hide a message in code. Pennington helped on the Wrights farm for six month then returned on his journey to freedom after the winter ended. Pennington’s documented story helps carve history to understand the route that many freedom seekers used. Like Pennington, the Black people escaping slavery would head out of Adams County and closer to their destination to freedom. This article was peer reviewed for accuracy by Andrew Dalton, historian, of the Adams County Historical Society and Debra Sandoe McCauslin, local researcher and historian. References Dorsey Myers, Betty. (2018). Progression of Education for Black Citizens of Gettysburg. Historic Gettysburg-Adams County, Inc. (2021). UGRR Site at McAllister’s Mill (hgaconline.org) American History & Genealogy Project. (Feb. 2016). Maryland American History and Genealogy Project (genealogyvillage.com) McClure, Jim. (July 2013). Gettysburg-area Underground Railroad landmark: ‘McAllister’s Mill involves the whole fabric of history’ – York Town Square (yorkblog.com) McAlister, Lynn. (July 2015). McAllister’s Mill | Today in Macalister History Sandoe, Debra. (2007). Reconstructing the Past: Puzzle of the Lost Community at Yellow Hill. Slavery and the Underground Railroad in South Central Pennsylvania. (Jan. 2017). https://archive.org/details/CSPAN2_20170122_160300_Slavery_and_the_Underground_Railroad_in_South_Central_Pennsylvania#:~:text=story%20and%20a%20staircase%20outside%20for%20easy%20estates,the%20meantime%2C%20slaves%20arrived%20and%%20caught20them%20 Wingret, Cooper H. (2018). Abolitionists of South Central Pennsylvania.

The Black Influence – Series 2: 1847 to 1864

In 1847, John “Jack” Hopkins was a custodian at the Gettysburg College. He was hired making only $15 a month. This was the normal wage for a free Black man in Pennsylvania. He was held in high esteem by the faculty and students. It is said that he helped freedom seekers during their passage in the underground railroad.  Hopkins went on to purchase a home on South Washington Street from Abraham Brian in 1857. Abraham bought a farm on Cemetery Ridge that ended up being a major point of battle during the war a few years later. The Hopkins home and two of the Cemetery Ridge buildings were reconstructed by the U.S. National Park Service. Jack and his wife, Julie Ann Hopkins, moved to a home on the college campus but kept their home on South Washington Street. The same year, 1860, the couple hosted the “Grand Fancy Dress Ball”. The Ball was most likely held at the home on South Washington Street. The Star and Sentinel is quoted saying the ball was “attended by all the colored aristocracy of the town, with specially invited guests from York, Harrisburg, Columbia, and Chambersburg.” In 1858, Margaret Devitt, later known as Mag Palm, was attacked by a group of men. They attempted to kidnap her. She fought with her hands bound and it is rumored she bit off the thumb of one of her assailants. She eluded the kidnapping. The picture on this page shows Mag Palm presenting how her hands were bound during the attempted kidnapping. Her strength and pride illuminates in her smirk. While reviewing this article, Jane Nutter, Present of Gettysburg’s Black History Museum added, “I often heard of the Mag Palm story by elder members in my family. Also interesting to me is the story about the wagons. I have heard ghost stories about the wagons on Washington Street.”  Basil & Mary J. Biggs moved to Adams County in 1858 so their children could be educated. In 1863, when the confederates were invading Gettysburg, Basil sent his family away. When they returned, his farm was ruined. He put in a claim to the state for the damages. He was awarded over $1,300 but he never received payment.  Basil earned money by exhuming soldiers’ bodies and burying them in the National Cemetery. He went on to buy land on Cemetery Ridge and inherited the Frey Farm. He also bought a home on the corner of South Washington and High Street. He was well known for his veterinarian skills and was a respected community member. One might say his greatest accomplishment was aiding freedom seekers in the underground railroad. He also helped found and build the Asbury ME Church in Gettysburg. In 1861, John Edward, son of John “Jack” Hopkins, served in Company F of the 25th US Colored Troop where he became a sergeant. Returning after the war, Edward suffered from a service-related illness that affected him for the remainder of his life. He lived with his wife and children at the home on S. Washington St. he inherited from his father. With warning of the Confederates entrance in Gettysburg in 1863, most Black people left Gettysburg fearing the war and possible re-enslavement. Lydia Hamilton Smith left with a different story. She was an interracial woman who married a free Black man named Jacob Smith. They had two sons but they separated and she raised the boys on her own in Adams County until an acquaintance, Thaddeus Stevens, offered her a housekeeping position. Thaddeus was a known antislavery advocate and attorney. Lydia accepted the position and took her two children with her. She accompanied Thaddeus on his travels after he was elected to Congress. It is believed Smith and Stevens participated in the underground railroad at his home in Maryland.  Since Pennsylvania bordered slave states, kidnappings of African Americans were common. The number significantly increased as Confederates made their way to Gettysburg. Black people were categorized as either free, emancipated, or runaways called “contraband.” The Rebels kidnapped African Americans from each group without care to their status. The number of kidnapped African Americans from Gettysburg is not known, but newspapers, personal journals, and letters mention raids of Black people being taken away. Most were women and children. They were bound and herded out of the town. The kidnappings in Gettysburg were by guerillas, acting alone, as well as Confederate soldiers in General Lee’s army. Although it cannot be proved that General Lee gave the orders for his troops to “collect contraband,” the following passages suggest that the ranks knew of and possibly encouraged the cruel practices. (from the book, African Americans and the Gettysburg Campaign, by James Paradis): References Vermilyea, Peter C. (2005). “Jack Hopkins’ Civil War”. Volume 11, Article 3. Available at:   https://cupola.gettysburg.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1082&context=ach Christ, Elwood W. (1999). “On the Trail of Sidney O’Brien: An Inquiry into Her Family and Status – Was She a Slave or Servant of the Gettys Family in Gettysburg? Was Her Daughter, Getty Ann, a Descendant of James Gettys?,” Adams County History: Vol. 5 , Article 4. Available at: https://cupola.gettysburg.edu/ach/vol5/iss1/4 Lee, Deborah A. (2009). “Honoring Their Paths – African American Contributions along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground”. (pgs 7-46) www-hallowedground-org.myshopify.com/products/honoring-their-paths-african-american-contributions-along-the-journey-through-hallowed-ground McCauslin-Sandoe, Debra. (2007). For the Cause – Gettysburg History. http://www.gettysburghistories.com Paradis, James M. (2005). “African Americans and the Gettysburg Campaign”. www.books.google.com/books/about/African_Americans_and_the_Gettysburg_Cam.html?id=9IbaTYAFGKIC

The Black Influence – Series 1: 1780 to 1850

In 1780, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed “An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery.” The Act stated people born into slavery in 1780 and after, would be freed when they turned 28 years old. However, people born into slavery before 1780 were still enslaved for life. For the time, this was a progressive step, but don’t let this cloud the view of the Black reality. Local people still owned slaves, those that were free lived restricted, segregated lives, and very few slave owners were willing to give them up, even when they turned 28. Slavery did not end in Adams County until the 1840s. Known as the first African American resident of Gettysburg, Sydney O’Brien was freed from slavery in 1833. She purchased a home on South Washington Street. She was born the slave of Isabelle & James Gettys Sr., the founder of the Borough of Gettysburg. Sydney is recorded as being “mulatto”, but her parentage is not traceable. It’s rumored she could be the child of James Gettys Sr. and his wife’s slave “Old Doll”. It is also rumored that her daughter, Getty Ann, could have been the child of James Gettys Jr. With limited records, the truth is not known. *Important note: do not romanticize a relationship between slave owners and their slaves. Most mixed race children born to female slaves were the result of rape and abuse of power by the slave owner.* Although it is recorded that African American children in Gettysburg attended schools as early as 1824, the Pennsylvania Free School Act required schools for African Americans. The 5th school in Gettysburg was designated as the Colored school, on the corner of South Washington and High Street. Descriptions of the school depict broken equipment and limited supplies. The school was moved to the AME Church until a new school was built in 1883/84. In 1835, Daniel Alexander Payne (February 24, 1811 – November 2, 1893) made his way to Adams County after his hometown of Charlestown, SC made it illegal to operate schools teaching African Americans. Payne attended the Lutheran Theological Seminary. Working closely with Gettysburg College, Payne started a school for Black children in an open Gettysburg College building. “The colored people of Gettysburg have more means for mental and moral improvement than any community of colored people with which I am acquainted  … the professors in the College and the Seminary, and also the students of both institutions stand ready to counsel, assist and instruct them, both night and day.” Unfortunately, few students took the opportunity for reasons of family migration, young children needing to work, and religious differences. Payne went on to become a bishop at the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in 1852. Although Black residents were permitted to attend White churches, they were offset to specific pews and limited in their prayer and membership. In 1838, the African American community founded the first Black Church of Gettysburg, the Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church. It was located on Franklin Street and the first pastor was Rev. Abraham Cole. Shortly after the start, the church changed positions and became the St. Paul AME Church. A location to worship was given to them by Thaddeus Stevens, a local antislavery advocate. Throughout the years, the AME Church advocated for abolition of slavery and participated in the underground railroad. Today, the AME Church is located on the corner of South Washington Street and Breckenridge Street.  During this time, the Black community was thriving. There was work for African American adults and education for their children. When Virginia resident Mary Maddox’s husband died, she manumitted their slave, Catherine “Kitty” Payne in 1843. Kitty took her four children to Adams County. Sadly, her youngest child, and infant of only a few months, died shortly after their travels. In an act of despair from severe debt, Mary’s nephew, Samuel Maddox Jr., went to Adams County to regain his uncle’s property. Samuel Jr. and several other men viciously kidnapped Kitty and her three children and took them to Virginia. One assailant was caught but Kitty and her children were not released back to Pennsylvania. Rappahannock County kept her and her children prisoner for over a year. They called it “safekeeping.” *Notice these are more words to ease the guilt of history. Kitty was violently kidnapped and held as a prisoner by the state. That does not sound like safekeeping, it sounds like conspiracy.* She was eventually released and made her way back to Adams County. Resources This article was reviewed for accuracy by local historian Debra Sandoe McCauslin. Christ, Elwood W. (1999). “On the Trail of Sidney O’Brien: An Inquiry into Her Family and Status – Was She a Slave or Servant of the Gettys Family in Gettysburg? Was Her Daughter, Getty Ann, a Descendant of James Gettys?,” Adams County History: Vol. 5 , Article 4. Available at: https://cupola.gettysburg.edu/ach/vol5/iss1/4 Lee, Deborah A. (2009). “Honoring Their Paths – African American Contributions along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground”. (pgs 7-46) www-hallowedground-org.myshopify.com/products/honoring-their-paths-african-american-contributions-along-the-journey-through-hallowed-ground McCauslin-Sandoe, Debra. (2007). For the Cause – Gettysburg History. http://www.gettysburghistories.com Paradis, James M. (2005). “African Americans and the Gettysburg Campaign”. www.books.google.com/books/about/African_Americans_and_the_Gettysburg_Cam.html?id=9IbaTYAFGKIC

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