#BlackAugust Born into slavery in Kentucky in 1842, Escaped former slave New Afrikan Allen Allensworth in August 1908 and four other settlers established a New Afrikan settlement town founded financed and governed by African Americans today known as Allensworth California. 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.
An unavoidable set of circumstances made it impossible for the residents of this tiny town located 30 miles north of Bakersfield to achieve their founders’ dreams over the long term. But the town did remain 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.”
The Allensworth colony became a member of the county school district and the regional library system and a voting precinct. Residents elected the first African-American Justice of the Peace in post-Mexican California. In 1914, the California Eagle reported that the Allensworth community consisted of 900 acres (360 ha) of deeded land worth more than US$112,500. Allensworth soon became a town, not just a colony.
Allensworth is the only California community to be founded, financed and governed by African Americans. The founders were dedicated to improving the economic and social status of African Americans. Uncontrollable circumstances, including a drop in the area’s water table, resulted in the town’s decline. The black settlers of Allensworth built homes, laid out streets, and put up public buildings. They established a church, and organized an orchestra, a glee club, and a brass band.
After the Army, Allensworth and his family settled in Los Angeles. He was inspired by the idea of establishing a self-sufficient, all-black California community where African Americans could live free of the racial discrimination that pervaded post-Reconstruction America.
his sister Lila escaped with her intended husband to Canada by the Underground Railroad; and the older boys William, George, Frank, Levi and Major were sold downriver to plantations in the Deep South, which continued to buy workers from the Upper South. Mary Jane was his only sibling who grew up in Kentucky and married there. Allen Allensworth would escape slavery and join the union army.
His mother was held by A.P. and Bett Starbird. The mistress assigned Allen as a young slave to her son Thomas. When the Starbird boy started school, Allen began to learn from him, although it was illegal.
Haki Kweli Shakur 8-3-51ADM 16
AUGUST THIRD NAPLA NAIM NSP