From the Executive Director features news and reflections on the work of PHMC by its chief administrator.

Civil rights, voting rights and race relations. These are all topics of conversation today, as they have been for more than a century and a half across the United States, including here in Pennsylvania. But without a shared knowledge about the history of these topics, it becomes harder to have meaningful and productive conversations.

This summer we are opening a new exhibit at The State Museum of Pennsylvania devoted to Civil Rights. This exhibit explores three stories that center around Black Pennsylvanians who challenged discrimination in the decades after World War II. The stories focus on Dr. LeRoy Patrick (1915–2006), a pastor who led the fight for the integration of Highland Park, Pittsburgh’s largest municipal swimming pool, in the early 1950s; Daisy Myers (1925–2011), who with her family faced harassment and intimidation upon moving to the all-white suburb of Levittown, Bucks County, in 1957, ultimately leading the governor to call the State Police to dispel hostile mobs and allow the family to continue living there without constant threat; and Philadelphia’s Girard College, a de facto segregated institution that actively resisted integration into the 1950s, where prointegration protestors picketed the school for seven months in 1965 and a subsequent court ruling forced the college to integrate and enroll its first Black students in 1968.

Each of these vignettes illustrates that racial discrimination after World War II was not only prevalent in the Jim Crow South but also institutionalized here in Pennsylvania, requiring active protest to overturn it. These are stories of perseverance, strength and courage. We hope this exhibit will provide insight and perspective into our shared past as we work toward the future Pennsylvania we wish to see.

Andrea Lowery
Executive Director, PHMC