LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — A walking history tour in Lancaster that touts the successes and struggles of the African American community in the Red Rose City has a new twist.
“The walking tour is the historic southeast tour,” said Nelson Polite, president of the African American Historical Society of South Central Pennsylvania.
The tour recognizes the Black community’s contributions, including the mindset for building economic and political power in Lancaster.
On the tour, the Bethel AME church.
“This church was started in 1817. And a group of folks got together and they wanted their own church. They came out of the white churches, congregations, where they were kind of had to sit in the back of the church, or in the balcony. They formed this church, and it, it was definitely thriving for a number of years. And then in 1879, the church was mysteriously burned down. No one was ever arrested,” said Polite.
The house of worship was rebuilt in a year and served as a beacon of freedom.
“We have the stained glass windows, and it has in the stained glass windows the road lily. And that was a sign that it was a safe place for those who were seeking their freedom to come to,” Polite said.
For six years or so the downtown walking tour has highlighted Black history in the Red Rose City. Now, it’s expanding.
“This is a new tour. It’s a tour recognized in the African-American community that was really thriving at one point in Lancaster,” Polite added.
“They overlooked and demolished this neighborhood. They were a group, and they were a community, and they were focused on making a better place not only for themselves but also for future generations. So what I’d like people to take away, is to begin to develop that same type of entrepreneur, economic, politically-based mindset to build back a community for the African-American,” Polite concluded.
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The new southeast tour will start the second Saturday in May.