Colonel Allensworth SHP
Narrated by Russ Christoff
During the early 1900's, a group of Black Americans led by Colonel Allen Allensworth and Professor William Payne, decided to pursue their dream of creating a community in California free of discrimination, where black men and women could prosper.
Colonel Allensworth, the highest ranking black officer of his time, began to realize his vision.
Many people had followed his dream, and the town of Allensworth began to draw men and women from all over the United States.
Today, the town of Allensworth, which is located in Earlimart, 20 miles north of Wasco, is protected by the state and is known as Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.
Visitors will find restored structures that represent the buildings that use to stand here, and some in the process of restoration.
On certain days the public may tour Colonel Allensworth's home.
Inside they will find modest furnishings that represent the time period. All the restored buildings contain furnishings that reflect the fact that goods could be difficult to obtain in this remote part of rural California.
Education was prized in the Allensworth community. Many of its townspeople were educated here in the schoolhouse, which is also open for tours.
And this tiny library once housed a thousand books, thanks to the dedication of the Colonel's wife, Josephine.
The untimely death of the Colonel, and unpredictable water supply, and World War I contributed greatly to the demise of this isolated little town. And in time, it began to crumble.
The spirit of Allensworth is still however, and is celebrated at certain times throughout the year.
I visited during the parks June Teenth celebration. On this day, people gathered to honor their ancestors who received notice of Lincoln's freedom proclamation, several years later than other slaves.
Food, entertainment and craft booths are some of the highlights of this major event.
The "Friends of Allensworth Association," and California State Parks host this and other annual events.
Costumed volunteers entertain and educate the public with stories about life in Allensworth during its heyday.
Susie has been a member of the Friends of Allensworth for a number of years. Her job on June Teenth is to reenact the role of Sarah Hindsman, the co-owner of the "Hindsman & Company" general store.
Susie, in your opinion, why is Colonel Allensworth State Park so important?
NARRATED BY SUSIE: It is important to the world. This is a park that is dedicated to African Americans, and we're part of that world. We are just as much a part of the world as any human being, but as you know there are not too many parks that have preserved African American history. So this park, tells the world about Colonel Allensworth State Historical Park. This is part of me, this is part of my ancestry. And it will be after I'm gone.