The following remarks are made from the Honorable Wanda R.D. Williams, 39th Mayor of the City of Harrisburg
Black History Month is a reminder that Black history is *our* history. Black history is Harrisburg’s history. It’s a chance to celebrate hundreds of years of the Black excellence which created Harrisburg excellence – and pay homage to the contributions of the Black men and women whose shoulders we graciously stand upon.
We are reminded of the free Black men who stood together at the Bethel Village AME Church in 1863 and bravely debated the Emancipation Proclamation.
Individuals like Thomas Morris Chester, Harrisburg born and raised, America’s first Black war reporter.
I, myself, am grateful for the glass ceilings shattered by my predecessors like Judith C. Hill, Harrisburg’s first Black woman to serve on Harrisburg City Council. Or Linda Thompson, Harrisburg’s first Black and first female mayor.
We are proud to be the state capital of Pennsylvania, which raised people like Andrew Bradley, Pennsylvania’s first African-American to serve in a governor’s cabinet, and was home to Pennsylvania’s first black Speaker of the House, K. Leroy Irvis, and now Austin Davis, our first Black lieutenant governor.
Black history is a celebration of our city’s history, and it is also a celebration of what makes our city so great: our diversity. I am reminded of a quote by the great Maya Angelou: “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads are equal in value, no matter their color.”
Harrisburg is that rich tapestry, and we will continue to ensure every thread is taken care of, with that same equal commitment.