Blackdom: The First All-Black Settlement in New Mexico

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Many of us are familiar with the Greenwood Community of North Tulsa Oklahoma where blacks built the most prominent community of their time. Deemed “The Golden Door” of opportunity for blacks, the dollar  in “Little Africa” circulated 36 to 100 times, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community, hence its nickname “Black Wall Street” along with “Little Africa” before its systematic destruction that left it torn and desolate. But it wasn’t until my trip to New Mexico this past week that I discovered other communities that are also worthy of inclusion in Black Wall Street’s Hall of Fame.

Blackdom

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Blackdom was a little known African American community about 18 miles southwest of Roswell New Mexico and was founded by Frank and Ella Boyer. Walking 2,000 miles on foot from Georgia to New Mexico, Boyer left his wife and children behind to cultivate land in the free territory of the West before sending for his family some three years later. At this time in history Blacks had begun migrating from the south in great numbers in a movement called “The Great Exodus” following the Homestead Act of 1862, particularly in Kansas. According to a 2001 archaeological study on the Blackdom region from the Museum of New Mexico, “During the decade of the 1870s, 9,500 blacks from Kentucky and Tennessee migrated to Kansas. By 1880 there were 43,110 blacks in Kansas.”

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The Homestead Act gave room for former slaves and free born blacks to reside in the West regardless of race. Here was an abundance of land, free and fertile to anyone who could keep it up. Influenced by W.E.B. Dubois and Frederick Douglass according to historians, Frank was a graduate of Morehouse University and a teacher of Black History which at this time was not very popular. He met his wife, Ella McGruder, a graduate from Haines Institute in Augusta, Georgia, at a teacher’s summer school session. The couple had four children (three sons, one daughter) when Frank set out for New Mexico in 1896.

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The desire and influence to build community was first conceived in the mind of Frank’s father, Henry Boyer, a free man. Henry was a wagoner in the American-Mexican war when he first set eyes on the New Mexico land. When he came home, he told stories to his family of the land. Growing up during the Reconstruction Era, after the Civil War, Frank naturally grew up with his father’s dreams in his head and saw the West as the Promised Land to a new start. Ironically, the same life force that made Blackdom thrive as a community was also its downfall. The Artesian Water sprang in abundance as more and more blacks were invited and nourished on the land. Blackdom had its own school, and post office. However, the Artesian Wells eventually dried up and citizens were forced to move to nearby cities such as Roswell to continue their lives. The Boyer family were the last to leave.

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After Emancipation, in theory black people were free. They were released from the physical chains of bondage. This freedom however, much like sharecropping, said that one could be self-sufficient by earning a profit, but by the end of the year the amount of debt incurred was a reality check concerning the freedom, or lack therof that actually existed. In the same way, Emancipation didn’t mean anything for a people who continued to suffer spiritually, financially, and mentally from the trials of chattel slavery. For this reason, not all blacks settled to continue occupation in the South but many of them invested in the hard work that slavery demanded and sought to use those skills to work their own lands and build their own communities. These stories fascinate me because it is a part of black history that is rarely, if ever, told. Not all blacks endured economic struggle and poverty after slavery but some, if only for a moment, maintained an air of economic dependency and not only succeeded, but prospered in the process.

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Sandra Bland & Black Hypocrisy

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I know, I said I was resting. I also said I was a workaholic. I am resting but before I dig in deep and disconnect from the internet, I thought I’d give you something to ponder over the weekend.

What kind of woman was Sandra Bland? Can anyone tell me? Did she pray often? Did she love those around her? Who was she? Personally, I don’t know.

I’m always saddened by the deaths of anyone and the things I see taking place within the black community. However, what annoys me is when black people allow themselves to be driven by emotion and disregard common sense. It has been said that she was dead in her mugshot, for instance. Have any of you ever seen a dead body or a rotting corpse? Have you examined lifeless bodies or studied the difference between someone living or dead? How then do you know what kind of state the woman was in when she was photographed? Must we ignore the marijuana they found in her system or is she automatically granted immunity for being black? We have turned Sandra Bland into a hero, even though no one can tell me what kind of woman she was.

How do we know for certain that she didn’t kill herself? Is this conclusion a result of a personal study or are we making decisions off pure emotion? Maybe she was murdered or maybe she committed suicide but what does it mean?

It’s sad, of course. How can it not be? But the question black people should be asking themselves is why? Why do these things continue to happen to you of all people?

Why is there a greater outcry against the killing of Cecil the lion than the death of one of yours? We are killed in the streets every day. Why are you continually treated like less than a human being?

These are the kinds of questions we should be asking ourselves, not whether or not Sandra Bland killed herself. The question is not if she did it or not, the question is….why?

I am not without compassion, but I cannot allow my emotions to surpass the truth. It’s hard to sit back and watch your people die but this woman did nothing to be considered a heroine of mine. I don’t know what her life was like to be granted that title or to make that kind of a decision.

You see the truth of the matter is that a lot of people are unconscious, especially within the black community. We have no idea of what’s going on around us or in front of us. We have no understanding of who we are, who we are not, and why as a result it has led to our position or lack thereof in this land. We continue to be slaughtered in the streets under the rule of a black skinned president but you’ll hear nothing about that. Funny how dark skin can deceive dark skinned people. Blinded by the hypocrisy  we cannot see the truth for what it is. Many of you, because you wear the title of African American, completely disregard any wickedness that comes from your blood line and the consequences that happens as a result of that disobedience. This woman is filled to the brim with weed but this is your Queen. I am not Sandra Bland’s judge and her death is sad, but she has done nothing for me to admire. Oppression is real but many of you are blind to the part that you play in that same oppression. This too is futility and it is hypocrisy.

Deu 28:20 “YAH sends on you the curse, the confusion, and the rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the evil of your doings by which you have forsaken Me.

In The News: A real “Beyond The Colored Line” Situation Arises

Race of Rachel Dolezal, head of Spokane NAACP, comes under question

(CNN) The race of one of the most prominent faces in Spokane, Washington’s black community is under question after her estranged mother claimed she is white but is “being dishonest and deceptive with her identity.”

Rachel Dolezal, 37, is the head of the local chapter of the NAACP and has identified herself as at least partly African-American. But her Montana birth certificate says she was born to two Caucasian parents, according to that couple, which shared that document and old photos with CNN.

“We are her birth parents,” Lawrence Dolezal told CNN on Friday. “We do not understand why she feels it’s necessary to misrepresent her ethnicity.”

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