The All-Black towns of Oklahoma represent a unique segment of American history. Neither in the deep south nor the far west did so many African Americans come together to create and govern their own communities. Between 1865 and 1920, African Americans had established over 50 towns in the area, a good portion of which still exist today. They settled here in large numbers to escape many of the harsh prejudices found in other areas such as the Deep South, and in these communities they could rely on each other for financial assistance and friendship. However, white resentment of the black race soon began to impact these towns, and thus we get migrations of African Americans to western Canada, Mexico, and even Back to Africa movements.
[...] Dunn, Brandi, Reynolds, Shanell, and Spencer, Cora, An Unofficial History of Boley, Oklahoma 4. Franklin, Buck Colbert, My Life and an Era: The Autobiography (Louisiana State University Press, February 1998) 5. Patterson, Zella J. Black, with Wert, Lynette L., Langston University: A History, vol. I (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1979) 6. Tolson, Arthur L., The Black Oklahomans: A History, 1541-1972 (New Orleans: Edwards Printing Company, 1974) Arthur L. Tolson, The Black Oklahomans: A History, 1541-1972 (New Orleans: Edwards Printing Company, 1974) Norman L. [...]
[...] Thompson, a graduate in pharmacy at Meharry Medical College, in charge. Many other All-Black towns existed within Oklahoma during the years between and around 1890-1910, such as Arcadia, Bluff, Brooksville, Grayson, IXL, Lima, Summit, Tatums, and Vernon. The essence of the All-Black Oklahoma town was clear in B.C. Franklin's words cited before. The towns were a sort of home for African Americans, during a period of bitter racial disputes and strict segregation laws. However poor, the Black citizens of these towns were happy, because they were in an atmosphere of acceptance. [...]
[...] With this setup, the school became one of the leading Black colleges in the West. Cleaview, also in Okfuskee County, near the Fort Smith and Western Railroad, is another All-Black Oklahoma town. Following the pattern of many of these towns, it too was established on land that belonged to a Creek Indian freed man allotment holder, in this case named Mondy Holmes. The fathers of the town are Lemuel Jackson, James Roper, and John Grayson. Jackson, also a Creek freedman, had an allotment in Okmulgee County, and came to Clearview at the age of ten with his parents. [...]
[...] Thus, in 1905, the name became “Boley, Creek Nation, Indian Territory”, and later on just when Oklahoma became a state in 1907. The initial settling families of Boley were the Barnetts, the Walkers, the Graysons, the Johnsons, and the Wilcotts. However, Boley grew, and its national reputation increased as well. By 1911, the town had about 7,000 citizens, and was the largest Black town in America. Booker T. Washington referred to this town as the “Midwestern Mecca”, and as most enterprising, and in many ways, the most interesting of the Negro towns in the U.S.” He believed Boley to be a “tribute to the race.” Boley and all the other Negro towns that sprung up elsewhere in the country, represented a dawning race consciousness, and a desire to do something to make the race respected; something which shall demonstrate the right of the Negro, not merely as an individual, but as a race, to have a worthy and permanent place in the civilization that the American people are creating. [...]
[...] At the time of the late 1800s, strict segregation prevented African-Americans from attending any of the institutions of higher education in Oklahoma Territory. Black citizens were concerned about their children's education, and approached the Oklahoma Industrial School and College Commission in July of 1892 to petition for the establishment of a college at Langston. A territorial governor named William Gary Renfrow, though previously vetoing a civil rights bill that would have barred segregation, proposed a reform bill to establish a land grant college at Langston. [...]
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