#SaturdaySchool: The Black Towns Project – Week 2 of 3

June 1, 2012


A few scholars such a Nell Painter, Kenneth Hamilton, and Norman Crockett have examined the historically black towns that were established after the Civil War and Reconstruction. Many historians have viewed these communities as failed experiments or insignificant in the larger picture of African American migration or U.S. history in general. However, evidence shows that these self-segregated, autonomous towns were part of a larger social movement, which utilized migration as a resource of resistance and opportunity throughout a nadir of African American history. Black activists and dissidents participated in a black town movement that has a continuing legacy today. In addition, self-segregation continues to be an effective, albeit frequently short-term method of resistance to oppression. African American southerners proved that their responses to racist conditions were varied and often defined by the resources available to them. Through these alternative means of resistance, black town residents were able to transplant their own ideas of race and southern traditions into the expanding West.

#SaturdaySchool: Black Towns – Week 2 of 3

Each week @ProfRagsdale gathers loyal followers around the twitter hearth to spread knowledge, build community, and create change. (May 19, 2012)

Storified by FunkNBeans · Sat, May 19 2012 16:45:34

#SaturdaySchool topic 2day is a continuation of my discussion of historically #blacktowns n the USRhonda Ragsdale
If u missed #SaturdaySchool Black Towns – Week 1 of 3 u can find it here –>> http://funknbeans.com/2012/05/saturdayschool-black-towns-week-1-of-3/ #blacktownsRhonda Ragsdale
*Schoolbell rings* “@profragsdale: #SaturdaySchool topic 2day is a continuation of my discussion of historically #blacktowns n the US”Reynaldo Macias
#blacktowns were established n every era of US history from 1700s-1900s #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
And so it begins… #payattention “@profragsdale: #blacktowns were established n every era of US history from 1700s-1900s #SaturdaySchool”Reynaldo Macias
@reynaldomacias good morning ! I’m broadcasting #SaturdaySchool from San Diego this morn :-)Rhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale #SaturdaySchool #blacktowns great follow up… I was one who missed it.Andrew H.
@profragsdale Welcome to the #bestcoast! Preach on… I mean Teach on! #SaturdaySchoolReynaldo Macias
#blacktowns n the colonial era often used alliances w other countries 2 gain freedom 4 residents #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
Langston Oklahoma was (And still is!) home to the awesome Langston University #HBCU http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/L/LA021.html #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
In the antebellum era #blacktowns were often extensions of the Underground Railroad & helped weaken slavery #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
The height of founding #blacktowns came after the Civil War 1870-1910 & this stage became a social movement #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
#SaturdaySchool is in session with @profragsdale talking about blacktowns.NativeNewsNetwork
After the Civil War & Reconstruction so many African Americans left the South, it was called an exodus #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
Bcuz blacks were leaving n such large numbers, those involved n the exodus were known as Exodusters #blacktowns #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
Book Rec: Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas After Reconstruction http://www.amazon.com/dp/0393009513/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_Zs7Tpb1TQWNN7 #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
The book Exodusters looks at 1st wave of #blacktownmovement but doesn’t realize it was just the beginning #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
One of the 1st of the Exoduster #blacktowns was Nicodemus, founded in Kansas in 1877 #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
Library of Congress records on #Exoduster town of Nicodemus http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/african/afam010.html #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
Langston Oklahoma was (And still is!) home to the awesome Langston University #HBCU http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/L/LA021.html #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
Nicodemus, Kansas #blacktowns #SaturdaySchool http://www.blackpast.org/?q=aaw/nicodemus-kansas-1877Rhonda Ragsdale
134th Homecoming Emancipation Celebration in Nicodemus Kansas July 26-29, 2012 http://www.nicodemuskansas.org/homecoming.html #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
There is a lot of misinformation about #blacktowns – many claim 2 b the biggest, oldest, only 1 left, etc #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale been to #nicodemus several times. Diaries are moving. Many of the women wept upon seeing the desolation. #blacktownmovementspencer d wood
The Kansas stage of the #Exodusters movement was only 1st wave, it shifted quickly 2 Indian Territory south #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
Pap Singleton #BlackTowns Leader http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/people/s_z/singleton.htm #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale Kansas State U has several faculty who grew up in Nicodemus. Johnella Holmes, Vernon Switzer (?) good contacts.spencer d wood
Kansas Historical Society info on #blacktowns leader Pap Singleton http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/benjamin-pap-singleton/12205 #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale any indication of eastern settlement in Kansas? Wyandotte County? Ppl say it was early exoduster cmty, near KC but out of MO.spencer d wood
#Blacktowns leader McCabe shifted the movement south http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/M/MC006.html #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@spencerdwood Wyandotte is on my list I believe – if u contact me after I’m done w #SaturdaySchool 2day I can give u what info I haveRhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale still active farmers in #nicodemus. Lots of buildings, sites. R you coming up? We can meet, introduce, etc. #blacktownsspencer d wood
@profragsdale great! Will do. Thank you! #blacktownmovement #SaturdaySchoolspencer d wood
@spencerdwood I’ve been there 2 — I’ve visited many #blacktowns but if I visit Kansas again I would love to!Rhonda Ragsdale
From Sodom to the Promised Land: E.P. McCabe & the Movement for Oklahoma Colonizaton http://www.kancoll.org/khq/1974/74_3_dann.htm #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@spencerdwood Btw I noticed some Nicodemus websites claims it 2 be only black town left in the West but that is very inaccurateRhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale not surprised…I found similar statements regarding new deal communities that I’ve studied…indicate lack of network links!spencer d wood
@profragsdale re: #blacktownmovement…any indications of safety from brutal authority like law enforcement etc. as component of mvt?spencer d wood
@profragsdale mind elaborating on key ideologies of movement? Thanks! #blacktownmovementspencer d wood
@spencerdwood They were networked then better than our histories are now, that I know #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale didn’t the exodus start before reconstruction was actually complete? I love #SaturdaySchool :)Michael Akin
@history_man1 The exodus did start slowly b4 that, but not in mass numbers until failure of Reconstruction made it clear how bad it would bRhonda Ragsdale
@history_man1 They were leaving plantations & farms but congregating in many southern cities in large #s, gathering led 2 plansRhonda Ragsdale
@spencerdwood Safety from violence was PRIMARY reason indicated 4 leaving the South & forming #blacktowns #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@spencerdwood The movement was based on simple concepts of safety & empowerment thru migration & community building #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale Not surprised 2 learn this. Have written on myth of nonviolence n civil rights mvt http://spencerdwood.weebly.com/ hist of violnt opprsnspencer d wood
Langston Oklahoma was (And still is!) home to the awesome Langston University #HBCU http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/L/LA021.html #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
#Langston became one of 1st #blacktownmovement towns in OK http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/L/LA020.html #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
#Blacktowns of Oklahoma —>> http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/A/AL009.html #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
#Blacktowns provided many opportunities simply not available n other places #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
Boley Oklahoma was certainly 1 of the biggest #blacktowns & is still in existence http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/B/BO008.html #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
Boley Oklahoma Black Town Council –>> http://www.blackpast.org/files/blackpast_images/boley_ok.jpg #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
The #blacktown of Allensworth, California was founded by a Buffalo Soldier – its a CA State Park now #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
Colonel Allen Allensworth State Park in CA has preserved #blacktown there –>> http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=583 #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
Allensworth CA had a centennial celebration n 2008 http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24825 #blacktowns #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
I’ve visited #Allensworth in CA – it’s located just outside of present day Delano & it’s so cool ! #blacktowns #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
Allensworth: California’s African American Community http://shar.es/qm6Fn #blacktowns #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
Col Allen Allensworth=soldier, minister, teacher &town founder –>> http://www.blackpast.org/?q=aaw/allensworth-allen-1842-1914 #SaturdaySchool http://pic.twitter.com/awQz6KHZRhonda Ragsdale
There r a few Friends of Allensworth chapters #blacktowns #SaturdaySchool http://friendsofallensworthsandiego.com/about.htmRhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale my grandma lived in Boley. She said it was a redblack town. Black folk and Black Indins surviving together.Asani Isapoet
@Asani almost all of the the #blacktowns were actually just not white towns — Esp in Oklahoma #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@Asani She must have told u some interesting stories ! #blacktowns #SaturdaySchool #BoleyRhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale yes! she told me about having babies at home & labor standing up! No one could afford or trusted hospitals.Asani Isapoet
@profragsdale I asked her about Okmulgee & Boley & being redblack, "we knew what we were but to the world we were black, so we were black"Asani Isapoet
@Asani That is exactly what I have heard from many residents & former residents #blacktowns #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale"Indian and Black babies didn’t always make it home, so our mothers had us at home." Grandma had no birth certificate.Asani Isapoet
#blacktowns weren’t called "black" towns when they were founded – it’s just what we call them now #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
#blacktowns sometimes called All Black Towns were actually quite multicultural & multiracial #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale hello, do these #blacktowns still exist in some capacity or another? Were these #blacktowns mainly agricultural based?Food Truck Mogul
@AlphaGriot Many r still in existence – probably a couple dozen or more but I know of at least 15 or so #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@AlphaGriot most were agricultural as many towns founded at the time but Boley for ex was much more than that #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@EusebiaAq Yes — studying actual #blacktowns is sometimes complicated by discerning them from black communities #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@EusebiaAq It’s interesting how many US cities have communities in them w #blacktown n the name #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@AlphaGriot @profragsdale Allensworth, California was agricultural I believe. Rumor has it a nearby white town put arsenic in their water.Asani Isapoet
@Asani Nearby town? I know about the arsenic problems there but I am wondering what nearby town it could have been – they were so remoteRhonda Ragsdale
@frankensteinguy @profragsdale it was just like that. The Canadian and U.S. govts. were just counting skins and disinterested in people.Asani Isapoet
@Asani @profragsdale I’m not surprised by that. The powers that be still poison Black/Brown/Red communities.Food Truck Mogul
@Asani @frankensteinguy The towns in my study (150-200 of them) all self-identified as as a ‘Negro’ Town or ‘Colored’ Town #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@Asani @AlphaGriot Yes it was agricultural-wells they used were quickly depleted & after Allensworth died, town declined #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@AlphaGriot @Asani I spoke at Univ of Houston last year about the ecological racism that #blacktowns faced #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale have you found "colored" used as a catch all to segregate all non whites from whites? Where did brown people sit?Asani Isapoet
@AlphaGriot @Asani #blacktowns fighting off direct issues like that but land they were allowed to buy was often troubled b4 #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@Asani In South Yes –anything not white white was (and still is) ‘colored’ & was even more so then-brown was black n South #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale thought so. An older Creek friend told me about the 1st time she was called the "N word". It was her 1st ride on the bus.Asani Isapoet
@Asani & once non-whites moved into #blacktowns & made lives there they became thought of as ‘colored’ or black #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@AlphaGriot @Asani The town of Tamina TX still fighting 4 water & sewage services only decade ago! #blacktowns #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale @Asani how does the EPA figure into this. This could be why politicians are trying to do away with itFood Truck Mogul
@AlphaGriot @asani I haven’t once seen mention of the EPA n any of my studies of #blacktowns but that doesn’t mean there isn’t 1Rhonda Ragsdale
@AlphaGriot @profragsdale you are so right! The EPA has a special branch just 4 rezzes & their findings & recommendations are often ignored.Asani Isapoet
@profragsdale @asani shouldn’t the EPA be involved when it comes to land, water and sewage toxicity?Food Truck Mogul
@AlphaGriot @profragsdale They should but $ magically runs out in areas that don’t look like them, which now is the whole country.Asani Isapoet
@Asani @profragsdale yeah I know. I wish that I was still alive and mentally functional 50 years from now. To see the looks on their faces,Food Truck Mogul
#blacktowns provided spaces where children grew up w out intimidation by whites – unheard of n Jim Crow era #SaturdaySchoolRhonda Ragsdale
@AlphaGriot @asani #SaturdaySchool woot ! Woot ! #blacktownsRhonda Ragsdale
@Asani @profragsdale I’ve heard of Prairie N***** too.James M. Roy
@profragsdale thinking about Rosewood, Florida. They were flourishing, no? That is, until that fateful night.Asani Isapoet
@Asani they r a unique story – they were flourishing n some ways but dependent on nearby town 4 labor & not autonomous as many #blacktownsRhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale I wondered about that. Read that they took over a mill that was not always lucrative.Asani Isapoet
We will continue #blacktowns part 3 next #SaturdaySchool w important info about Black Towns website I will unveil soon!Rhonda Ragsdale
Please keep the ?s & comments about #blacktowns coming tho – remember: u r never late 2 my #SaturdaySchool !Rhonda Ragsdale
@profragsdale It’s amazing to me to learn so much about US history that I never knew existed. And I know there’s even more to be learnedJames M. Roy
Many more resources coming next week 4 part 3 of #blacktowns on #SaturdaySchool !Rhonda Ragsdale


(Allensworth Hotel at Allensworth State Park, California – Photo by Bobak Ha’Eri)

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