HOBSON CITY, ALA.
Oldest Incorporated City in Alabama
Hobson City, was established on August 16, 1899 and is the oldest incorporated African American city in the State of Alabama and the third oldest incorporated African American city in the United States. First known as Mooree Quarter, and was a part of Oxford, Alabama until the late 1890’s. Hobson City is in the process of revitalizing. Under the leadership of Mayor Alberta McCrory, the town is working in partnership with local universities and colleges to help with a planned transformation.
Established in 1908
Allensworth, was formed in 1908 four black men formed the California Colony and Home Promoting Association. The Association purchased 20 acres along the Santa Fe rail line and divided this land into individual parcels to form Allensworth, named in honor of the association’s president, Allen Allensworth. With the success of agricultural development and business enterprises, the town quickly grew. By the year 1914 the town had a schoolhouse that became California’s first African American school district.
The Town that Freedom Built
Eatonville, was established by former slaves who had been brought to Florida by the Seminole and Cherokee Indians. The former slaves were used to help clear the lands for Maitland, and a black community popped up beside Maitland where the workers lived. After the election of two blacks to political office in Maitland, and with the help of Captain Eaton and Lawrence a group purchased a parcel of land adjacent to Maitland and in August of 1887, the town of Eatonville received its charter of incorporation from Tallahassee.
Home of Tuskegee Institute
TUSKEGEE, consists of 80 square miles and is the county seat of Macon County, Alabama. Tuskegee rests in the heart of the rural Alabama Black Belt. Tuskegee was founded by General Thomas S. Woodward in 1833 after he was appointed to form a seat of government in Macon County. Tuskegee was later incorporated in 1843 and continues to be a site of major African-American achievements for over a century. Tuskegee played a vital role in the civil rights movement and is the birthplace of Rosa Parks and is also the home of the first African-American fighter squadron known as the Tuskegee Airmen.
MOUND BAYOU, MISS.
The Jewel of the Delta
Mound Bayou, was founded in 1887 by twelve pioneers from Davis Bend, led by Isaiah Montgomery. Mound Bayou had a U.S. Post Office, six churches, banks, stores, and several public and private schools. Its economy depended on the production of cotton, timber, and corn, and being an agent for the L, NO & T Railroad. Politically, Mound Bayou’s mayor Isaiah Montgomery protected it from outside violence through political accommodation. Montgomery also ensured Mound Bayou’s growth by working closely with Booker T. Washington.
BARRETT STATION, TX.
Founded by Harrison Barrett
Barrett Station, was founded by Harrison Barrett who was a freed slave. After Emancipation in Texas on June 19, 1865, he gathered most of his family members and started the settlement as Barretts Settlement. When he died in 1917, Barrett owned more land than any other black man in Harris County ever had. The community began with seven houses, which Barrett helped to build with lumber from his land. He helped members of his family to set up farms, established a saw mill, gristmill, and coffee mill and granted others open access to fish and crayfish in the spring and gully near his homestead. Harrison donated land for Shiloh Baptist Church, which also served as a school.
FREEDMENS TOWN, TX.
Freedmens Town, Freedmen’s Town was established immediately after the Civil War when many farmers gave or sold their truck farms and property to freed slaves. The first freed slaves departed the Brazos River cotton plantations in 1866 and entered Houston via San Felipe Road (now named West Dallas. The 1,000 freed slaves who settled the community selected the site along the southern edge of the Buffalo Bayou since the land was inexpensive and because white people did not want to settle on the land, which was swampy and prone to flooding. The settlers of Freedmen’s Town paved the streets with red bricks that they hand-made themselves.
FIFTH WARD, TX.
Home of Peabody Records
Fifth Ward, is one of the six political districts created in Houston, Texas in the mid-nineteenth century. It was established in 1866 by former slaves who began settling in the area around 1865. Fifth Ward’s proximity to the Houston Ship Channel and railroad yards made the area attractive to black workers. By 1925, over 40 black-owned businesses lined Lyons Avenue, the main thoroughfare.
Established in 1890
Langston, Oklahoma, The town, which opened for settlement on October 22, 1890, was named for John Mercer Langston, who took office as the first black Virginian to serve in the United States House of Representatives only one month earlier.
Located just outside of St. Louis, Kinloch was once a community locked off from the rest of the area by natural and man-made barriers. In spite of a lack of financial resources, it once provided its residents with a school district, city hall, post office, business district, and recreational facilities. Residents will recognize Dunbar Elementary, the oldest school for blacks in St. Louis County, Holy Angels, the oldest continuing black parish in the St. Louis Archdiocese, as well as former residents Congresswoman Maxine Waters and political activist Dick Gregory. Eventually, due to insufficient revenue, this once thriving community fell into decline, and is now struggling to keep its small town values and ideals alive.
ABOUT THE COMMUNITIES WE PRESERVE
Before and after the Civil War, free people of color and formerly enslaved African Americans left the plantations and settled in places where they established their own communities even incorporating some into independent, self governed municipalities. These early pioneers were the first African American “placemakers” in America. In every state across America, blacks settled themselves into clusters of freedmen sometimes referred to as colonies, settlements and towns. It is estimated that more than 1200 places were settled by blacks in America.
These places have not been fully accredited or recognized for their contributions to American history. Now today, we are faced with disappearing places as a result of gentrification and other compromising forces. Preserving Communities of Color is a national movement that focuses on protecting and preserving these communities and renewing them into inclusive places and cultural destinations.