Category: Claiming Citizenship and Reclaiming Histories

Memorial Park-Lincoln Cemetery Project

Lincoln Cemetery, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, November 5, 1971

From 1840 to 1902, around 100 people were buried in Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, one of Carlisle’s first Black cemeteries. This cemetery was the final resting place for 35 United States Colored Troops veterans.  At the time of the cemetery’s use, many of the soldiers laid in graves without headstones. In 1882, the borough of Carlisle decided to change that. On May 25, 1882, it was announced in a Carlisle paper that the headstones had arrived and were beginning to be put into position. Finally, the black heroes of the Civil War and many other people, some who were former slaves, would be honored in a proper way, too. Many of which were former slaves able to create a new life for themselves. However in the 1970’s, despite many protests, the headstones of Lincoln Cemetery were removed and a park was placed on top of the bodies. The headstones were never seen again. All that remains as a reminder of these people and their history is a memorial plaque that list off the names above and one headstone. Our project is focused on fighting the erasing the history of historically marginalized peoples, a prominent the social justice issue. The Jordan Family was buried there, on top of their bodies is a walkway that cuts through and crosses over the cemetery. It is as if the people buried there never lived at all.

The Thompsons of Carlisle

There are not Thompsons buried in Lincoln Cemetery. Instead the family was buried in Union Cemetery, the second black cemetery, across town. However, the family is deeply important to both Lincoln Cemetery and the community of Carlisle. Before the land became a park, even before it became a cemetery, it was called Thompson Woods and it was owned by a former slave, Robert Thompson Sr.File_000 (4)

Robert Thompson Sr. was a slave from Front Royal, Virginia. When he came to the town of Carlisle, he could not read or write. He was given an axe by a neighbor and began a wood chopping business with that money he expanded and bought a horse and wagon, and then he expanded even further buying his first property. Thompson then became a contractor and builder. From there, he began to buy property after property until he became the largest individual colored land owner in the state of Pennsylvania and the richest colored man in the county. The Carlisle Newspaper described the wedding of Ida Thompson, one of Robert Thompson’s daughters, to Rev. John Smith as the biggest and best wedding in the county. After his death, his son bought even more land until collectively the estate owned 81 houses, with black and white tenants, 127 30×40 foot building lots in the heart of Carlisle, and 15 acres of land, some of which later became Colored burial grounds.

Robert Thompson was well resIMG_0967pected by the black and white people of Carlisle. He was a member of the Carlisle Star Lodge of Masons. After his death, the Carlisle Newspaper released a full article detailing his life and accomplishments. He died on March 5, 1900 at the age of 72 and was buried at the Thompson Rest in Union Cemetery. He was survived by his wife Annie Thompson and his children Mary, Ida, Rachel, Maria, Julia, and Robert Jr. There is one grandson I found in my research named George Thompson, son of Robert Thompson Jr. There is a newspaper article stating he was attending college at Lincoln University in North Carolina and would graduate in June of 1895. After his graduation, George planned on practicing medicine.

Robert Jr. inherited his father’s land and began to buy more. However, in 1907 and 1908 he began to sell some. The reason is still unclear to me. However, this trend may have continued which may explain why the Thompsons do not control much of Carlisle today. There is still much that needs to be discovered about the Thompsons. What happened to all their land? Did it involve the practice of land grabbing or did the Thompsons sell the land willingly? Are the other grandchildren? Do any relatives still live in Carlisle? Either way, it is clear the Thompson shaped the history and the future of Carlisle as well as Cumberland County.


The Youngs of CarlisleFile_000 (3)

What the Thompsons were for business, the Youngs were for education. Robert C. Young was employed as a janitor and police officer by Dickinson College for over 31 years. He was described as “intelligent, progressive, at the forefront of advancement of race, demanding of recognition when denied, respected by students, and the best people of the community have confidence in him”. He was the Treasurer of the committee that bought the land for Lincoln Cemetery, in which he was later buried.File_000 (5)

He fought tirelessly to get his son, Robert G. Young, accepted into Dickinson College. The school had yet to accept any black students and Young felt his son was fully deserving of the spot. His other son, James G. Young, became the first black man to graduate from Shippensburg University, then called Cumberland Valley Normal School. He also was the school’s first black football player. After his graduation, he returned to Carlisle as a public school teacher. Young’s daughter, Pricilla Young, applied to Carlisle’s white high school. While the Young family tried to integrate schools, they also fought to make the colored schools of Carlisle better. Robert Young formed a committee and brought issues such as inadequate supplies and buildings the black children of Carlisle were forced to use for their schooling. The committee also tried to convince the school board to not close black schools and to hire black teachers for the black students and their white counterparts.  There are many questions left about the Young family as well. How many children were there in the family? Were there any grandchildren and did the carry on the family’s powerful legacy? Are there any surviving? Youngs in Carlisle? How did the Youngs come to Carlisle? The Youngs left their mark on the Carlisle community, both in the hearts of the people and the system of the laws.



To start my project I went to the Cumberland County Historical Society. In the beginning, my research was broadly focused on Lincoln Cemetery and the history of its creation. There were few sources on the cemetery and each source tended to repeat the same information, except for one, a large book called Lincoln Cemetery “The Story Down Under” 1884-1905. Published in 2011 by Janet L. Bell, this book was full of old newspaper clips about the black people of Carlisle who were involved or attached to the cemetery in some way. This is where I began to narrow my search to families. I continued to see the names Thompson and Young in articles stating that they had done amazing things. From there, I was able to find old department of history records titled Colored Education and a drop file full of all sorts of articles about the black people of Carlisle called Black History. Another source that was partially helpful was the Pennsylvania Negro Business Directory 1910.

I felt I could only research two families because it allowed me to set a goal for myself and bring the project more into focus. However, I feel all of the black families in Carlisle, related to the cemetery or not, have a rich history that deserves to be shared. I was surprised to find the lack of resources on the black people of Carlisle compared to the white ones. Black history is not as valued. This devaluation of some history can even be seen in black history. The Thompsons had more readily available information on them than the Youngs did because, while both families had profound effects on the black community, only the Thompson effected the white people of Carlisle enough to be deemed important. This is a trend that must be stopped because we lose important narratives and stories because of it.

-Naji Thompson ’19

The Lanes of Carlisle

The Lane family contributed to Carlisle’s economic success and community by working jobs that required hard labor or physical services within the community. The First of the Lane family was Abraham “Abram” Lane who was born in1801 and died at the late year of 1901. Abraham was a field slave for the Humrich family in Franklin County near Greencastle, Pennsylvania. He died at the age of 100 and left two sons named James Lane, who himself had a son named Robert J. Lane, and Nace Lane

Nace Lane was born in the year of 1822 and died in1892. He was known in Carlisle as “Uncle Nace” and often was seen as a positive community member according the book. He worked as a coachman for Judge Sadler and lived in Mulberry Alley. His life was tragically taken by disease of the liver. As Nace’s life came to a close, the life of Robert J. Lanes life was opening up.

Robert J. Lane was born in 1866 in the Borough of Carlisle. He was known around Carlisle as a “bright young man and a good character.” Robert worked as a boot black or boot shiner for Phillip Gebbardt’s barbershop. This form of employment was very common for a black man at this point and time. Since the late years of slavery, Black men have used shoe shining as a base of employment and as an alternative to farm labor. In the year 1940, 412 Black men out of every 1000 was employed as a farm laborer. Robert not only was a contributor to his community but he also contributed to the game of American football. On December 9th, 1899, Robert was one of the first Black quarterbacks for the Carlisle Colored Football team. Unfortunately, his achievement was short lived because a week later, he died at the age of 23. Dr. Krise, the physician on duty at the game said that Robert died from “internal injuries” from playing football. During this time, Carlisle was creating the foundation to this violent game and so football did not have imply set of rules nor did it require its players to wear proper safety equipment; Injuries and deaths like Roberts were fairly comGravestone of George Lane, 8th U.S.C.T., Lincoln Cemetery, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, November 5, 1971mon.

While continuously digging, I found that the Lane family also has a history in serving in the military during the Civil War. George Washington Lane was a soldier and member of Post 440 in the Grand Army of the Republic, which is brotherhood or fraternal organization made up of military veterans, and a member of the Company E of the 8th Regiment for the Colored Infantry which was located in Ohio. This G.A.R. post that he was apart of is now diminished but it was connected to the posts in Cumberland County for forty years. George also fought in the historic the Siege of Petersburg. The battle was a series of battles that took place in Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia. The casualties for this battle were 11,200 and most of the deaths were union casualties; George is lucky to have survived this battle. Before George joined the military he was a sharecropper who worked on the R.P. Henderson farm for more than ten years. He was born in 1840 and died at the age of 56.

Finding the Lanes 

In the beginning of my groups research we were given a list of names of Black Carlisle residents who were deceased and buried at the Lincoln Cemetery; many of the deceased were buried with their family members. After multiple attempts at searching through the Cumberland Counties archives to find information on families such as the Johnsons, Baltimores, and Jacksons, I finally stumbled across the Lane Family.  I found information on the Lane family when I found a book titled “Lincoln Cemetery “The Story Down Under” 1884-1905” which was published by Janet L. Bell in 2011. In this book, were newspaper articles from the “Daily Evening Sentinel”, which was later changed to the “The Evening Sentinel,” on the Black members of Carlisle all ranging from wedding announcements to death announcements.

Not only did this book disclose articles on the families but it also has articles on the actual case that was based by Carlisle to remove the tombstones and build the park. As I read more about the case I discovered that citizens who lived near the Lincoln Cemeery, mostly white, petitioned to “renovate” the cemetery into a park. Many of the members of the Carlisle community called the cemetery a “disgrace” because the Borough of Carlisle only “cleans it twice a year” which hints at the fact that Carlisle had no respect or initiative to beautify Lincoln Cemetery. One of the interesting points about this case is that a Dickinson School of Law student, Barry Kohn, was responsible for sparking the initiative to get community members to sign a petition to remove the tombstones and build a park over the cemetery. The book even included that the new park was going to be named after James Young but never received approval; an estimated $90,000 of state funds was spent on this project which could of have been used to revamp the previous cemetery and even provide the Borough of Carlisle with more funding for other necessities such as school funding.

The Hodge Family

For this project, we were given a list of names of the people buried in Lincoln Cemetery. In order to maximize time, I chose one family to research and I chose the Hodge family. The Hodge Family is one of the oldest African-American families in Carlisle. To find information, I searched the Dickinson Archives as well as the database at the Cumberland County Historical Society. At first, it was difficult to find information at the historical society because there were so many Hodges that I did not know where to start. I then came across a book written by a member of the Hodge Family detailing her family’s history.

The book, titled Courage and Faith: Hodge and Roebuck Family, began with the author’s Maternal Great Great Grandfather, Peter Hodge. Peter Hodge was born in Shepherdstown Jefferson County, Virginia in 1805. He and his wife Lucy Norris left Virginia for Carlisle after conditions continued to get worst for slaves following the Nat Turner and John Brown Rebellion’s. Peter Hodge and his family came to Carlisle using the Underground Railroad. They were affiliated with the First Presbyterian Church of Carlisle, which also had connections with the Underground Railroad. Lucy Norris Hodge died in Carlisle in 1872 and is buried in Lincoln Cemetery. The date of Peter Hodge’s death is unknown and he is also buried in Lincoln Cemetery.IMG_0523

Peter and Lucy Hodge had multiple children, but William Henry Hodge Senior is highlighted because he is M.R Beck’s (the author’s) great grandfather. He was born in 1832 in Jefferson County, Virginia. William Hodge Sr and his wife Mary Louise Hodge as well as their children were also slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 did not free the Hodge Family so they fled Virginia along with Peter and Lucy Hodge. William Henry Hodge Sr served in the civil war for the union as a teamster, which is a driver of one or a team of horses doing hauling of supplies, and he came to Carlisle after the Battle of Gettysburg. His wife Mary Louise left Virginia between 1862 and 1864 with their daughter Louisa “Luly” because it was easier to escape slavery in smaller groups. Mary Hodge died in 1884 at the age of 38 and was buried in Lincoln Cemetery.William Hodge remarried in 1888 and died in 1911 at 78. According to the census, he resided at 520 Fairground Avenue and was buried in Union Cemetery.

Matilda HFullSizeRenderodge is the daughter of William Henry Hodge Senior and B.R. Mack’s maternal grandmother. She was born in Carlisle in 1879. After her mother died and her father remarried Matilda Hodge’s other siblings left their home, leaving her their alone with her father and stepmother. In 1897 at the age of 18 Matilda Hodge gave birth to a “mulatto” daughter, Ethel Mae. According to oral history, Ethel Mae was shunned and unwelcomed in the Hodge family. Ethel Mae’s alleged father was a Dickinson College professor and was not involved in Ethel Mae’s life. After her birth, Matilda Hodge was forced out of her father’s home, causing Ethel Mae to have to live with a non-relative in Carlisle. Ethel Mae Hodge grew up in a home on 422 North West street in Carlisle, Pa.

This preservation of history project is important because it serves as a means of connecting the intellectual with the Black Carlisle community. According to Howard McGary, there is a common feeling of disconnect between the black community and those who “make it out” (72). This preservation of erased black history is a contribution to a community that may feel like there is a disconnection.  


During this project, we were only able to focus our research on four families. However, these are not the only families or stories that are important. The erasure of Black history is an important issue to keep in the forefront.  B.R. Mack said, “For those of you who are indifferent about your heritage, I hope you embrace it; For those of you who are in the dark about your heritage, I hope you’ve been enlightened; For those of you who are aware of your heritage, I hope you are enriched; and for those who appreciate your heritage, keep it alive and prevent the foundation from crumbling”. We can only build our future on the solid foundation of our history. Those who are passionate about the preservation of history, as it relates to social justice, are best suited for this project.




Beck, M. R. Courage and Faith: Hodge and Roebuck Family,. Salt Lake City: Family Heritage, 2012. Print.

Bell, Janet L. Lincoln Cemetery “The Story Down Under” 1884-1905. 2011. Print.

“Black History.” Drop file collection. Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, P.A.

Colored Education, Carlisle Schools, 1856-1934. Information excerpted from the official records of the school system, Compiled 1935. Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, P.A.

“Lincoln Cemetery Memorial Park, Carlisle, PA.” House Divided The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College. Dickinson College. Web. 4 May 2016. <>.

Pennsylvania Negro Business Directory 1910. Harrisburg: Jas. H. W. Howard and Son, 1910. Print.


Black History Photographs Project


Educational Injustice: Forming Alliances to Create Progress

The Black History Photographs Project is a partner project with Hope Station uncovering the hidden histories of the Black Carlisle community, specifically churches, schools, historical sites, and family photographs. Hope Station’s mission “seeks to lift up the entire neighborhood by tackling our most difficult problems through education, technology, job development and most importantly, teaching our children to become leaders by learning to respect themselves and others.” Hope Station is allied with The Cumberland County Historical Society, whom allows students and other Carlisle residents to utilize their archival resources. The goal of this service-learning course is to ensure that students are able to  grasp an understanding on the many social, political, and economic injustices experienced by black bodies daily. This particular project grapples with the educational injustices endured by the local black community of Carlisle. Specifically, we focused on the histories of the “colored” schools in Carlisle, The Lincoln School and Wilson School, as well the historically local Black churches, such as The Shiloh Baptist Church and Bethel A.M.E. Church. Historically, churches were the spaces used to foster education for local black communities. Through the methodology of archival research, this project essentially closes the gap between the intellectual and the local black community, by providing them with access to historical information on their ancestral achievements and heritage.

Colored Schools”

Wilson SchWilson School
Lincoln SchoolLincoln School

One aspect of this project focused on the educational injustice that was endured by the local black community, historically–the Lincoln School and Wilson School. Historically, evidence has proven that for African Americans, education (or lack thereof) was another method employed by white supremacist to keep black citizens subjugated. However, after entering the service learning project with Hope Station, one can conclude that although there are not legal policies, such as Jim Crow Laws, there is still this educational injustice happening right in the local black community today.  While my main methodology was archival research, completing this project took much self-reflection in regards to realizing what was important me. In order for me to grasp an understanding on the importance of social justice work, I revisited my hometown, which is similar to the black marginalized community here in Carlisle. I came to the conclusion that a specific social justice issue that is very important to me is both educational and distributive injustice that black communities face, which hinder the potential success for black individuals in these communities. This recognition definitely helped in terms of organization because I knew exactly what to research during the next couple of weeks.

school newspaperArchival research enabled me to uncover the origins of the two “colored” schools in Carlisle, individuals that worked at these schools, as well as the many problems school board officials faced during this time period. In short, the first “colored only” school actually “[began] in the basement of the African Church on Pomfret St., now Bethel A.M.E” (Development Of Education for Colored in Carlisle), by four members of the The Lady Benevolent Society in 1836. Due to, of course, the racial tensions in Carlisle, the first school for black children was underfunded and overcrowded. Despite this, however, Miss Bell, a white woman who was asked to come help teach, taught the students skills such as reading, religion, and sewing. Historically, this alliance between white teachers and black school is evident as white teachers from the north often migrated to the south to teach black students.  Noting that Miss Bell was a white woman highlights this idea of alliances that were needed for social justice to be successful. It is not just about the black the organization, but the allies that helped make resources available to these organizations. Shortly after the Lincoln School had been built, another public school, known as the Wilson School, opened in 1890. Initially serving as a high school, the Wilson building would soon become an elementary school for only black children. Typical of many segregated schools in parts of country, these two Carlisle schools lacked resources that were accessible to their white counterparts. For example, in an article entitled “Blacks Recall Days Before School Integration”, a young African American student asked “Why couldn’t their classes have a movie projector, like white students say they had at their school? (Miller). This show the distributive injustice that was endured by African American schools, which often hindered the success of black students.

In light of what we have been learning about social justice this semester, this project definitely connects to the both educational justice and distributive justice for black citizens.  Social justice leaders  have worked to tackle the educational injustice endured by the black community. Historically, the development of colored schools in this country was a harsh one. The education board, in the North and South, were controlled by  white government state funding. Government officials feared that educating African Americans would “challenge their white supremacy…therefore Black schools received far less financial support than did white schools. Black schools had fewer books, worse buildings, and less well paid teachers.” (Virginia Historical Society). As a result, local organizations such as the Black Panther Party developed  literacy and other enhancement programs within the black community. One can argue the ability to read would allow for black individuals to fully claim their citizenship, as they would be able to both interpret and partake in policies that once kept them oppressed. What is important about the Black Panther Party tackling educational injustice is that there programs would not have been as successful without the help of other outside organizations—whom were usually white activist. Howard McGary, author of Racism, Social Justice, and Interracial Coalitions highlights the importance of having allies in a works of social justice. McGary states the constant racial tensions between black and white citizens is what has ultimately put a damper on the progress of social justice movements. He states that “is not enough for whites or African-Americans to be inclusive with it comes to intellectual contributions that from various cultures” (McGary 203), but should instead join with the marginalized community as well and work together without racial tension. This is apparent in our project as the local black organization, Hope Station, paired with the Cumberland County Historical Society, in order to make available historical information to the wider community.

In addition to its link to interracial coalitions, this project also resonated with the social justice movement that called for an African-Centered education. I found in my research that during the desegregation of public school, delegates argued for maintaining black teachers within schools. The importance here is that black teachers are thought to help boost the self-esteem of black students within these schools. In addition, having an African centered curriculum would bring the histories of the black community to center of education.



Archival research, a kind of primary research method conducted is the main method of examination I employed in my when search for Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and The Shiloh Baptist Church Carlisle. With the use of the filed electronic archives and tangible archives from The Cumberland County Historical Society, along with the use of the online management museum software provided by I was able to find a large quantity of historical entities dating back to the 1800’s. Within my research I was able to find extensive gripping facts on both historical sites. Bethel A.M.E Church, located on 127 East Pomfret St in the community of Carlisle, Pennsylvania initially started with a small group of African American believers of Christ that would congregate together and have prayer meetings in the homes of who ever had available space. As time progressed and continued to take place in the year of 1820, the number of people consistently participating in weekly bible study largely expanded. What was formerly known “Pomfret Street A.M.E Church” transitioned into the new name Bethel A.M.E and continued to provide the community with one of the only safe spaces for praise and worship. Beyond providing the members of the community with a sacred religious space, the church acted as a space for encouraging conversations around difficult topics, creating an educational space for children, acted as a medical care taking facility. Religious institutions were very important to the Social Justice movement. Underwood attest to this explaining, Not forgotten are the days of meetings within churches, such as the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which served as a rallying point for civil rights activities and focal conversations during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement and was consequently bombed.


The church also functioned as an academic arena, where the studies of the youth were made a priority. Miss Sarah. Bell, a white teacher from The “Negro Public SchBethelool” utilized the basement as a room where students can learn about English, Math, History, and Science. Black children and other children of color were not granted the access to decent education. Sarah Bell acted as a white ally with Bethel A.M.E and acted as a key component in cultivating an alliance with the church. The church supplied a space for children of color to get the education they deserved, and further more wouldn’t fully receive in an underfunded institution. The class was able to delve into the significance of Social Justice and interracial coalitions. In chapter 12 of Howard McGary’s book Race and Social Justice. Within his work he examines how race and social justice play a role in the American narrative, but in chapter 12 he is specifically grappling with the social politics that is attached to interracial coalitions. One of the important aspects of interracial coalition, or opening spaces committed to social justice issues in reference to opening up space to non-people of color is what McGary explains as, “Any realistic proposal for ending the injustices or perceptions caused by racism must be based upon creating trust and bonds of commitment across races…Without a shared sense of community there can be no justice. And without justice there can be no peace”. This is important to keep in mind because the relationship between the black church and the white teacher is an examples of interracial work. Beyond opening up the space to Miss Bell, Bethel A.M.E acted as a provisional shelter and a medical facility in the course of the Civil War. Reverend Lawrence Chappell Henryhand, Bethels’ 64th delegated pastor has been under leadership since the earl 1990’s to present day. Under his leadership the church has been able to successfully thrive and make active change that continue to maintain the well-being of the church.


The Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church of Carlisle, located on the corner of Lincoln and North West Street was created out of the undeveloped Baptist Church by Reverend William Bell in 1868. With what began as a small group of members of the black community of Carlisle meeting in different locations to pray, read the bible, and discuss the word of the day their meetings quickly turned into a black congregation. From there Shiloh Baptist Church became one of the main spaces for black people of the Carlisle Community to comfortably worship. As the organization continued to develop and grow Reverend at the time W.A.D Peck found himself drawn to the connection between religion and education. As his interest he grew he decided to take the initiative to construct and teach at the first church school in Carlisle Pennsylvania. W.A.D was a significant in bridging the gap between the black intellectual and the black community of Carlisle. McGary explains the importance and the responsibility of the African American intellectual when he says, “Intellectuals must join with the wider community and resist the temptation to acquiesce in wrongdoing they did not cause it. Reverend Peck plays such a vital role in making sure that a space exist where intellectuals and people of the community can come together and bond, talk about different experiences, and network. The church school provided the community with a space to learn about topics presented during the week, along with a space to share ideas, and provide constructive criticism for the church and school. Lastly they specifically provided the youth of the church with a platform to explore their intersecting identities. Currently under the leadership of Pastor Dr. Williams E. Jones, The Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church has been completely renovated and remodeled. A library has been implemented in the space and has provided members of the congregation access to different kinds of literature. Along with the renovations the Church has added several new organization, such as The Young Men’s Usher Board, The Bud Choir, The Library Committee, The Scholarship committee, The Flower Guild, and The Board of Education. Shiloh continues to serve as a place where people the community can praise and worship in a comfortable space amongst the members in their community.  


Moving Forward

The Black History Photograph Project has already provided historical information in regards to the local landmarks, and achievements of the Black community. In order to continue this project we would suggest that a small volunteer group can dedicate their time to archival research in the name of cultural preservation. For example, by creating a blog that allows members of the Black Carlisle community to update their experiences that were not available in the images provided. In light of the educational injustices faced by black people daily, the need to continue this type of service work will bridge the gap between local Black intellectuals and the wider Black community.



Edwards-Underwood, Kimberly. “#Evolution or Revolution: Exploring Social Media Through Revelations of Familiarity.” Black History Bulletin 78.1 (n.d.): 23-28.

McGary, Howard. “Racism, Social Justice, and Interracial Coalitions”. Race and Social Justice. BlackWell Publishers (1999).pgs.196-212

McGary, Howard. “Chapter 12.” Race and Social Justice. 1st ed. Malden, Mass: Blackwell, 1999. 293.


Voter Education/Registration Drive

During the 2016 Black History Festival, we aided the Voter Education and Registration Drive as it actively encouraged the Carlisle community to become more politically engaged. Acknowledging that the greater community may not of been fully aware of the extent of their civic duty as eligible voters, the Voter Education and Registration Drive wanted to equip the community with the education needed to exercise their full citizenship and express their own political agency. Our duties as volunteer voting advocates were centered around drawing attention to the voter stand, providing concise information about the registration process and expressing the power of ordinary people can have on a local and national level through voting.  After that, we then aided those who were interested in the registration process fill out the official documentation needed to register. As we emphasized to all who asked what was the importance of their vote, historically, people of color have been disenfranchised and marginalized from the political process. The fight to vote was a tremendous victory for people of color as it gave them a stake in the politics of this country and through such, a voice in which they could use to be heard when combating the injustices the United States government system has had against people of color.

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After the Black History Festival, we were in agreement that the Voter Education and Registration Drive was an important initiative that should continue to persist and develop in Carlisle. In the one day of we worked at the drive, it was evident that the number of people who were unfamiliar with the political process was concerning. The need of a revitalized effort to educate the community about the importance of voting was clear.  We came to the conclusion that the Voter Education and Registration Drive could be sustained if expanded beyond an occasional initiative, but rather transformed it into a long-term program. A long-term voter education and registration program would be able to travel to different schools, community organizations, and events as a means to encourage people to vote and explain the importance of engaging in politics, along with its history in regard to marginalized groups of people. In addition to making the initiative a long-term program, the formation of workshops for the program’s volunteers would also be needed as the means of equipping volunteer voting advocates with fundamental knowledge on politics to better educate a wider community.

Karl Lyn ’18

Kennedy Lewis ’19

Sofina Odero ’18


Claiming Citizenship, Reclaiming Histories

image2According to Howard McGary, “[c]itizenship, in the liberal tradition, is thought to provide one with the opportunity to flourish by arranging society, such that its basic structure does not unfairly inhibit or prohibit one’s pursuit of a chosen plan of life” (65). Student reflections in this section examine issues of citizenry in the African American community of Carlisle.  They begin with a discussion of the significance of voting as a right of citizenship and the importance of African American participation in the electoral process.  This discussion is highlighted by their participation in a voter registration drive that took place in February 2016, during the Black History Festival that was hosted by Hope Station.

To discover how African American citizens of Carlisle survived and flourished in the 19th and early 20th centuries, students also researched historically Black schools, churches, and prominent Black families that were found in photographs at the Cumberland County Historical Society. This project was prompted by Hope Station’s desire to feature a Black history exhibit at the festival.  The reflections of students in this section pay particular attention to issues of distributive justice in educational access and resources.  Moreover, students who researched prominent families of Carlisle who are buried in Memorial Park’s Lincoln Cemetery uncovered the families’ economic statuses and military affiliations. Ultimately, the students participated in recovery work, excavating the life stories of Black Carlislians that are buried in historical archives.


McGary, Howard.  Race and Social Justice.  Massachusetts:  Blackwell Publishers, 1999. Print.