We Are Not Strangers Here: African American Histories in Rural California

We Are Not Strangers Here is shining a light on African Americans in the history of California agriculture and rural communities, and black people’s relationship with food, farming and land. This Cal Ag Roots story series has been in the works for quite some time and we're thrilled to announce that you can now tune in.

We Are Not Strangers Here will be released weekly-- click the links below to listen:

Thousands of African Americans participated in the California Gold Rush. Some were still enslaved when they did like 49er Alvin Coffey. Join us for Episode 1 to learn more about Coffey's fascinating tale. 

One of the most impactful ways we come to know about places is through the stories we tell about them. Discover how Black people in rural California have been remembered--and forgotten--in the stories and landmarks that tell the beginnings of the Golden State.

Black people have long cultivated the land in rural California. And in doing so, they’ve contributed to what we grow and how we grow crops in the state. Discover how early African American farmers and ranchers didn't just grow crops and raise livestock throughout the Golden State. They also cultivated societal change that helped make California what it is today.

Starting as early as the 19th century, Black communities--large and small, loosely organized and formal took shape across rural California. Discover the undertold history of California’s Black rural settlements including how these communities represent the tension between the promises and the challenges of living in the Golden State. 

In 1908, African American pioneers established the town of Allensworth forty miles north of Bakersfield as part of the broader Black Town Movement. Discover how these settlers not only built buildings, established businesses, and planted crops--they also inspired the imagination as they tested what was possible in rural California. 

Relationships to the land can be seen throughout African American history and culture. However, Black Californians haven't just long been connected to the natural world in the past.

You can listen online, or better yet, you can subscribe to the podcast so you don't miss an episode.

Photo credit: Farmhand and horse standing next to shed in Tulare County, Roberts Family Papers, African American Museum and Library of Oakland

The We Are Not Strangers Here stories is being told in two ways: 1) through a traveling exhibition-- which will launch in 2021 as cultural institutions re-open in California-- comprised of archival visual and textual materials and 2) through our podcast series.

We Are Not Strangers Here is a collaboration between Susan Anderson of the California African American Museum, the California Historical Society, Exhibit Envoy and Amy Cohen, Dr. Caroline Collins from UC San Diego, and the Cal Ag Roots Project at the California Institute for Rural Studies. This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities (Visit calhum.org to learn more), and the 11th Hour Project at the Schmidt Family Foundation.


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  • Ildi Carlisle-Cummins
    published this page in Podcasts 2021-03-25 12:11:50 -0700