Statement of Solidarity

Statement of Solidarity

The violent murder of George Floyd, killed by police officers, tears at the fabric of the soul of our community and our nation. LancasterHistory stands with those who denounce and resist the violence and racism, from any source, that puts the lives of Black and Brown people at risk.

Last week, LancasterHistory paused in its weekly messages to listen intently and hear the voices of anger, anguish, exhaustion, as well as determination that still ring out in our communities. LancasterHistory is enmeshed in the racial inequality and systemic racism that pervades our country’s history.  For more than 130 years, as the organization in our county principally responsible for chronicling its history, we have not paused often enough to listen, to hear, and to act on behalf of justice and equality for the Black and Brown members of our community.

For the failure to speak out against racism, we ask forgiveness. We pledge to call out racism when and where we see it, to be vigilant against racism in the conduct of all our affairs, and to work toward a world where Black and Brown lives matter and where Black and Brown people are safe and free to pursue their lives in liberty and with the assurance of justice. Furthermore, LancasterHistory pledges to review our policies and practices to ensure that the history collected and the stories told become more reflective of the diverse community that Lancaster is and has been since its settlement in 1729.

In the next two years LancasterHistory will embark on an important new project interpreting the history of Thaddeus Stevens, a noted Abolitionist, and Lydia Hamilton Smith, a powerful woman of color, as we open the Stevens & Smith Historic Site in Lancaster. LancasterHistory pledges to continue to seek out and include Black voices at every level of this project, from the Scholarly Advisory Council and the Community Engagement Team, to the museum professionals who will staff this site. LancasterHistory will seek to work closely with Lancaster’s Black community, with the hope that the Stevens & Smith Historic Site becomes a vital part of the fabric of Lancaster’s Southeast, and a partner to the many organizations that have labored long and hard—often against great odds—to create a just and prosperous community. This commitment to including Black voices to interpret Black history extends to the rest of what we do at LancasterHistory: we are committed to fostering an inclusive history of Lancaster, and serving as a space that enables all members of our community to see themselves in our shared history.

Finally, how do we make sense of the violent actions in parts of our country that have resulted in looting, injury, or loss of property? The age-old maxim: violence begets more violence comes to mind. Yet, even theologians have long made the distinction between violence on the part of the oppressor—meted out from a position of institutional power backed by law and weapons, and the violence of the oppressed—an act of utter desperation by a people too-long denied justice, too long the victims of institutional violence, too tired of trying peaceful means to make their point. America’s history has many such examples: the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969, the Christiana Resistance in Lancaster County in 1851, or the Boston Tea Party in 1773. Is such violence in response to repression to be condoned? No, it is not. Is it against the law? Yes, it is. But it must also be understood for what it is, a last collective gasp for air, a desperate cry to capture the attention of the oppressor and move the needle toward justice. The murder of George Floyd and the rage displayed on the streets of our cities have captured our attention. Let us not lose our focus. Let us move forward together to safeguard the lives of Black and Brown Americans.

Posted June 12, 2020

Return to Press Room