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Prelude to April 22, Residents of York, PA Remember The 1969 Race Riots

By Can Tran     Apr 21, 2008 in Politics
The issue of race that had made headlines in the Democratic race between frontrunners Senator Hillary Clinton of New York and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois brings back memories of the race riot in York, Pennsylvania in 1969.
Prelude to the April 22 Democratic primary set to take place in Pennsylvania, the current major contest in the Democratic race, it would look as if the issue of race will continue to make headlines. For the community of York, the issue of race has brought back many memories.
For the April 22 Democratic primaries in Pennsylvania, the city of York will be a pivotal battleground between Democratic frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. York has been known for being the nation’s capital for a brief time. It was also known for being a stop for the Underground Railroad that led African slaves to freedom. However, York is notorious for the 1969 race riots in which two people were killed.
On Saturday, April 18, Clinton held a rally at the corner of Market and Beaver Streets. It was less than a block from where the deadly race riots of 1968 took place. One victim was white and the other was black. There was a split in racial lines as a result.
Henry Schaad, a white police officer, and Lillie Belle Allen, an African-American and a minister’s daughter were the two killed in the 1969 riots.
For the residents of York, the issue of race has touched the community in a very deep way. In the past, York was predominantly white. Now, the city has strong growing Black and Latino populations. Still, the county where the city lies is dominated by white working-class conservative voters. That voting bloc should give Clinton an advantage during the April 22 contest.
While the issue of race has touched the community of York, Pennsylvania, the current mayor, John Brenner, who supports Obama, said that there is still more work to do in order to mend the racial divide.
As race touched the community, the residents of York said that there are more important issues such as the economy and health care.
Eric Kirkland, the local chapter president of the NAACP agrees with the assessment. He too said that there are issues that go beyond race. Kirkland explains that the standard of living has become worse.
Brenner and Kirkland both said that there is still much work to be done in York. After 39 years have passed since that event, there is still much that is being worked on.
Recently, GOP nominee Senator John McCain of Arizona has toured Alabama. He is attempting to reach out to the African-American community.
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