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United Way of Lancaster County


Juneteenth reflections: Vincent Derek Smith

Vincent Derek Smith (Photo: Brian Nguyen)

Only 60 years ago, Nelson Polite Sr, was on the front line as marchers protested Rocky Springs pool’s failure to integrate after its owner lost a court case brought by Lancaster attorney Bob Pfannebecker.

Rocky Springs was one of three county pools sued for discrimination in 1960, and all eventually lost. Other pools around the country faced similar legal battles, 95 years after the proclamation of emancipation on Juneteenth.

Juneteenth 2023: Local reflections

One United Lancaster asked several Black community leaders and advocates to share their thoughts on Juneteenth. Click the links to read each author’s essay:

Only 60 years ago, demolition crews in the 1960s razed whole blocks of the Southeast — places where people with a range of incomes lived — to make way for public housing for thousands of Lancaster’s poorest residents, 95 years after the proclamation of emancipation.

The government called the initiatives of the 1960s “urban renewal.” But the Southeast experienced nothing of the sort. Instead, poverty only deepened, and neighborhood cohesiveness collapsed. The impact reverberates today.

Only 50 years ago, Hazel I. Jackson became the first African American professor to teach at Millersville University. Her presence made an immediate difference, as she introduced African American literature to the curriculum and brought Black cultural celebrations to the campus, 105 years after the proclamation of emancipation.

So, while we are celebrating the meaning of Juneteenth, we know we still have a long way to go before we can really celebrate real freedom.