YORK — Western York County communities remembered the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. over the weekend with special observances including music, speeches and a parade.
On Saturday, people gathered under clear, sunny skies in downtown York for the Western York County NAACP’s annual MLK parade on Congress Street. The parade, which began in the early 1980s, is believed to be one of the oldest MLK parades in the state.
It featured several dozen entries, including the York and Clover high school marching bands as well as invited bands from Orangeburg, Columbia and Benedict College.
On Friday morning, about 100 people remembered the legacy of King at York Comprehensive High School, as they listened to the story of a York County leader in the civil rights movement.
And the Clover community gathered Sunday evening at the Clover School District Resource Center for a special observance presented by the Roosevelt Community Watch organization. Speakers included Superintendent Dr. Marc Sosne and the Rev. Charles White, national director of field operations for the NAACP.
Friday’s event in York featured speaker Dub Massey, a member of the Friendship Nine – nine Friendship Junior College students who were arrested and jailed after a 1961 sit-in at the McCrorey’s lunch counter in downtown Rock Hill,
Massey told attendees that he had grown up in the Sunset Park area of Rock Hill being disturbed by the injustice of racial equality.
“The thing that continued to eat at my heart was, why is there this racial divide?” he said. But it wasn’t until he was invited to participate in the sit-in that he decided to do something about it, he said.
Massey, now 70, and eight other young black men were arrested and jailed for 30 days and worked on the York County chain gang. They were arrested Jan. 31, 1961 for sitting at a whites-only lunch counter in Rock Hill.
The “Jail, No Bail” strategy that was launched in Rock Hill and York, site of the prison camp, by the nine students from Friendship Junior College in Rock Hill re-ignited the civil rights movement.
Still, Massey said the record that still exists from the arrest; it has never been expunged, he said.
Yet he said it didn’t prevent him from serving a two-year stint in the U.S. military, pastoring churches or working as a teacher and a counselor in York County schools, including in York. And he continues to teach as a substitute.
“The record is still there,” Massey said of his police record. “Now it needs to stay there.”
Steve Love, a state NAACP executive board member who grew up in York, told the crowd that as a sixth-grade boy at the all-black Jefferson School in the 1960s, where Massey taught, Massey was his hero.
“His discipline was tough, but he loved us all the same,” Love said.
York Mayor Eddie Lee said of Massey, “we appreciate the courage he displayed 61 Januarys ago.” He also said that King “continued to speak to us about courage and justice and meeting the challenges we face in this time.”