1st African American Town created , Allensworth, CA

On the day in history, August 3, 1908, Colonel Allen Allensworth had purchased 800 acres of land in Tulare County along the Sante Fe rail line and filed the site plan for the first African-American town, Allensworth, California. He planned for the settlement to be governed, financed and operated by black people. In 1976 it was transformed into a 240-acre state park.

Allen Allensworth was an American military chaplain, political delegate and educational leader who was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on April 7, 1842, and escaped from slavery in his teens to work with Union forces in the Civil War. He later worked as a restaurateur. He died under mysterious circumstances on September 14, 1914.
In August 1908 Colonel Allen Allensworth and four other settlers established a town founded, financed and governed by African Americans. Their dream of developing an abundant and thriving community stemmed directly from a strong belief in programs that allowed blacks to help themselves create better lives. By 1910 Allensworth’s success was the focus of many national newspaper articles praising the town and its inhabitants.

The town remained home to a handful of families and individuals throughout the 20th century, and true to the courage and resolve of its founders, the town has survived and persevered, earning the well-deserved title “The town that refused to die.”

In September of 1974 California State Parks purchased land within the historical townsite of Allensworth, and it became Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park. Today a collection of restored and reconstructed early 20th-century buildings including the Colonel’s house, historic schoolhouse, Baptist church, and library once again dots this flat farm country, giving new life to the dreams of these visionary pioneers.

With continuing restoration and special events, the town is coming back to life as a state historic park. The park’s visitor center features a film about the site. A yearly rededication ceremony reaffirms the vision of the pioneers.

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