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California’s Black Townships and the Uprising of Black Colonization in the Central Valley

Posted by Sara Cooper | May 31, 2023 | 0 Comments

The Central Valley is primarily known for its agricultural roots and labor mobilization during the 1960's for local farm workers. However, there is a history that has been disappearing and even unmentioned about an impactful reality that cultivated ecological history and investment opportunities, a town where Black Californians had embarked a close-knit community beginning in 1908 – Allensworth, California.

Allensworth, now predominantly Latino and Hispanic, is located on the Kern-Tulare border that is a rural area and often passed by on the highway. Its development was made by African Americans during the 1900's whose purpose was to not only create opportunities and connections that would possibly not be provided elsewhere due to racism. Embarking on this new chapter in their lives by coming from the other side of the country along with following the guidance of others who lived in areas of Southern California such as Los Angeles. Everything was brought up by scratch, and there were many difficulties that harmed daily living for its residents. 

Coming up to the 1910's, electricity and safe water were not connected to Allensworth that was supposed to be completed for almost a decade by developers of a public utility company called Pacific Farming Company, discussed by Eissinger. It made more than complete sense that many residents started to head out as not only water and electricity were not available at ease. Other options had to be discussed in terms of how to keep the community alive, including how to build education for the town. Tulare County Library was an often-traveled place where it had eventually been transformed as a center for Allensworth. Families would share this quality time to read available materials and have communal conversations about where the next step could be to develop the community. This didn't entail that the residents were always content with arsenic levels in the water supply in the following years, as the nonexistent cooperation from nearby towns and companies that were obligated to give initially as Eissinger follows. 

The cultural importance of Allensworth runs deeper than understanding the roots of where Central California stands but how it reflects our local communities today. The values and progression that the residents of Allensworth withheld despite its disapproval from their neighbors, reveal protection and sustainability in a community is vital for its survival. This topic of history did not occur as further away as imagined, and the remaining family members in Allensworth hold strong pride for their past family members and their incredible work overall.

Supporting documents:

  • Eissinger, M. A. (2008). African Americans in the rural San Joaquin Valley, california: Colonization efforts and townships (Order No. 1466565). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection. (304826534).
  • Masters Thesis: CSU Fresno (

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