Marching to the Beat of York’s Drum.

Marching to the Beat of York’s Drum.

Last summer, a chartered bus of York County residents, including 20 youth from YMCA’s Temple Guard Drill Team traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in the 60th Anniversary of the March On Washington. Organizers included York’s Confronting Racism Coalition, NAACP, YMCA, and youth activist, Jamiel Alexander.

The march commemorates the 1963 March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom that called for civil rights protections, economic justice, voting rights, and an end to segregation.
Mike Smith, Founder of Temple Guard (T.G.) knew how important it was for his cadets to attend the event.

“I named them Temple Guard, because our youth should view their bodies as a temple commanding respect. And as their bodyguard, I serve to protect that temple and help them feel valued and safe,” Mike explained.

Neither Mike nor his drill team knew how their name would be tested that day. While T.G. entertained the crowd, Reverend Al Sharpton suddenly stepped into formation with the youth. Mike captured the now viral video of the Reverend marching to the beat of T.G.’s drummers. A world-renowned African American civil rights activist and Baptist minister, Rev. Al Sharpton is an icon in the Black community.

That unbelievable moment led to another surprise for T.G. – an invitation to lead the marchers.
“It was an honor and a joy! I have never felt prouder of my cadets. We hadn’t rehearsed, but they put their best stomping boot forward,” Mike shared enthusiastically! Being propelled into the national spotlight was intense, but Mike’s promise to protect the youth never wavered. As press photographers swarmed the youth, the adults sprang into action forming a human chain around them. Acting as bodyguards.

Zeneida Griffith, a member of T.G. recalled the day with excitement: “It was a great experience. I’m glad I was able to make history with my drill team.” Aliani James, another cadet said, “The march represents the history and progress of Black people. It shows that we are serious about seeing changes in our society.”

The Temple Guard Drill Team definitely made history on August 26, 2023. YCCF’s Racial Equity Fund committee is honored to support this memorable day for our community.

Watch the viral video of Rev. Al Sharpton dancing to the beat of Temple Guard’s Drill Team here.

To read all the stories in our 2023 Annual Report, click here.