Local communities of color have been almost literally invisible politically. For years, realtors and banks steered black homebuyers away from most neighborhoods and hundreds of black and brown students were taunted and bullied in local schools and young black men were routinely pulled over and hassled for “driving while black,” and black history was ignored by schools and tourist businesses. But these issues never attracted widespread attention and support. Now, the local communities of color are saying “no more.”
The Gettysburg Community Collective has grown out of concern about the treatment of local communities of color. It was triggered by national concerns growing out of the killing of George Floyd, but its focus is strictly local. Our mission statement is “to increase awareness of black lives and improve the quality of life for African Americans in our community, by bringing local organizations together to push forward with healing.”
We are working with other community groups, such as Gettysburg Rising, to address concerns with community-police relations (which is discussed in the next article), equity in the educational system (in which we are advocating the incorporation meaningful Black History Month observances in the curriculum and questioning schools about discipline and discrimination problems in local schools), and advising local business how they can be better allies.
Our group is also sponsoring one special event a month. The first such event was the Gettysburg Honors Black Cavalcade, a procession of cars starting at the Peace Light Memorial and processing past several sites associated with African American history, including the Abraham Bryan Farm, Lincoln Cemetery, and the AME Zion church. This event was held on the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday and attracted more than 50 cars. Besides providing visibility into some important historic sites, another benefit of the event was that it gave us a chance to establish a positive working relationship with Police Chief Glenny. He and neighboring police departments provided assistance in getting our motorcade through town.
In February we released two informative episodes centered on this year’s Black History month theme, the Black Family. The episode can be viewed at igloblack.com under the videos tab.
The Collective will also be providing a docuseries on MOVE Philadelphia in March and participating in the April abolitionist day. A future event will honor Juneteenth.