Dedicated to the Continued Study and Preservation of Historically Black Towns in the United States
About the Project
Historically black towns established after the Civil War and Reconstruction have been examined by scholars such a Nell Painter, Kenneth Hamilton, and Norman Crockett. Many have viewed these communities as failed experiments or insignificant in the larger picture of African American migration or U.S. history in general. However, the industrious people who founded self-segregated, autonomous towns across the United States used migration and town-building to resist racial oppression throughout all eras of American history. Black activists and dissidents, since the Colonial Era, participated in town-building efforts to craft a legacy that continues to thrive today. After the failure of Reconstruction in 1877, these towns became part of a formal social movement to ensure safety and provide opportunities for black and multiracial families. In addition, self-segregation proved to be an effective, albeit short-term method of resistance to oppression. Former slaves, freed-people, and especially African American southerners responded to racist conditions in varied ways that were often defined by the resources available to them. Through these alternative means of resistance, black town residents were able to assert their own ideas of race and southern traditions and contribute to the industrialization and urbanization of the United States.
About the Website
This website is an effort to preserve and promote the continued study of these crucial, and sometimes forgotten, stories from America’s past. We invite you to browse our Black Towns Index (categorized by state and town) and explore the history of these important town-building efforts. This site is still under construction, but the complete list of towns by state is available to browse. The Black Towns Project will continue to add information and town histories, and invites those who do not see a town on the list to submit it through our Submit a Black Town page. If you would like to moderate a black town page, please visit our Moderate a Black Town’s Page to sign-up.
About the Author
Rhonda is an Associate Professor of History at Lone Star College – North Harris, and a PhD candidate at Rice University concentrating on the fields of Southern History, African American History, and Sociology. Her dissertation advisor is Dr. John B. Boles, the William P. Hobby Professor of History and editor of The Journal of Southern History. The working title of her dissertation is “Black Towns of the United States: 1700s-1900s.”
You can learn more about Rhonda and find her curriculum vitae at RhondaRagsdale.com.
This website is incomplete and under construction. The Black Towns Project will continue to update black towns information and improve site functionality.