Allensworth: The Freedom Colony By Alice C. Royal
The untold story of California's only African American town Imagine you were a young black man, the son of slaves, living in a Northern city around 1910, struggling to build a better life for your family. Or maybe you lived in the South and were still at work in the fields that your parents worked as slaves. You might have been surprised to hear of a new town in California founded by former slaves and their descendants, led by a retired 10th Cavalry officer, Colonel Allen Allensworth. Would you hesitate to move to this place? Some three hundred families did relocate to California s Central Valley between 1908 and 1918 to establish Allensworth a town African Americans could call their own. Challenged by a variety of circumstances and doomed when a water company failed to come through on its promises, the town nonetheless still stands, now as Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park. More than twenty buildings in the downtown area have been or are being restored to resemble the town as it was from 1908 to 1918. Allensworth, the Freedom Colony tells the story of this town from its beginnings from Colonel Allensworth s vision to the financing of the land purchase to the establishment of the community to the inspired creation of the park and current concerns about its future. Alice C. Royal, one of the last people to be born in the utopia, narrates Allensworth, using contemporary and archival photographs plus material drawn from volunteers and the park s collection of oral histories.