Attorney who represented first black family in Levittown dies at 99

Paul Kurtz
January 21, 2019 - 4:00 am

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BUCKS COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A Bucks County attorney who recently died at age 99 is being remembered for the role he played in the early days of the civil rights movement.

Samuel Snipes represented Bill and Daisy Meyers in August 1957 when the couple and their three children moved into a home in Levittown.

Snipes was white, and the Meyers were black — the first black family to move into the development.

Their new white neighbors quickly made it clear that the Myers were not welcome by gathering into angry, intimidating mobs outside their house.

Snipes stood with them, risking life and limb, according to Dr. Aaron Smith, Temple University assistant professor of Africology and African American studies.

"When the mob would gather, he was known for actually being in between the family and the actual mob that threatened to create a climate," Smith said. "Not necessarily wanting to do physical harm, but to create a lynch mob mentality that could result in someone being physically harmed."

The courageous family held their ground and stayed in the house for four years.

Smith believes that Snipes, a lifetime humanitarian and peace activist, should be more than a footnote in history.

"We can look to replace some of the existing names and so-called heroes with real heroes like Samuel Snipes, who can show people the best of us," Smith said.

Snipes died Dec. 31, 2018 at his family farm in Morrisville.