This old photo captures the presence of hooded Klansmen in Shrewsbury, a regular sight in small towns across York County, Pa., in the first half of the 20th century. Background posts: Meeting of riot victims brought hope for racial accord and York’s 221 E. Princess St. home to telling ironies and York Charrette or charade?.
For years, I’ve checked in on a small stained-glass window at a northwestern York County church.
Lettering in a lower pane indicates that the Ku Klux Klan sponsored it in the KKK’s local heyday in the first third of the 20th century.
Late last year, I stopped by, and it appeared that the lettering had been obliterated… .
In writing a recent York Sunday News column (1/25/09) on the Klan’s ubiquity in those years, I used the window as an example of progress on race since then.
That is, the sponsorship at one time was proudly displayed. Now, it’s effectively covered up, but not erased from the window.
I drove out for one last check, and the angle of the sun revealed that the Klan’s link to the window was still evident. That part of the window was effectively covered from the inside, but the lettering was still there to those in the church’s parking lot if you knew where to look.
So I rewrote the ending of my column reflecting the presence of the Klan’s signature.
Still, the window serves as a metaphor about racism in York County. Poor attitudes toward people of color have improved but are still there. They are sometimes shrouded or covered up but far from eradicated.
One wonders why the church just doesn’t replace the pane and then take a hammer to it in a window-shattering ceremony. Or else send it to a museum. Either measure would serve as a sober reminder of those sad days when hooded haters regularly celebrated their sick ideology in towns throughout York County.
Newspapers regularly reported on Klan celebrations in the 1920s and 1930s.
Other posts on the Klan in York County:
- For years, KKK has tried to navigate the York County mainstream.
- How about a window-shattering ceremony to end icon of York County racism?.
- Klan’s presence won’t make York County’s highlight reel.
- Klansmen awaited presidential candidate Calvin Coolidge’s campaign swing. (Check out Coolidge entry.)