By Bruce A. Glasrud
Till lately, histories of the yank West gave little facts of the presence—let by myself importance—of African american citizens within the unfolding of the western frontier. There could have been a point out of Estevan, slavery, or the Dred Scott selection, however the wealthy and sundry adventure of African american citizens at the nice Plains went mostly unnoted. This booklet, the 1st of its type, provides that severe lacking bankruptcy in American history. Originally released over the span of twenty-five years in nice Plains Quarterly, the essays gathered the following describe the half African american citizens performed within the frontier military and as homesteaders, neighborhood developers, and activists. The authors deal with race kinfolk, discrimination, and violence. They inform of the fight for civil rights and opposed to Jim Crow, they usually learn African American cultural development and contributions in addition to financial and political points of black existence at the nice Plains. From contributors comparable to “Pap” Singleton, period Bell Thompson, Aaron Douglas, and Alphonso Trent; to incidents at fortress Hays, Brownsville, and Topeka; to defining moments in govt, schooling, and the arts—this assortment bargains the 1st accomplished evaluation of the black event at the Plains.
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Additional info for African Americans on the Great Plains: An Anthology
The time appears right for a serious reappraisal of the army’s lrst black regulars, one that resists the temptation to cast them either as villainous enforcers of white oppression or heroic subjects 26 leiker of injustice. The former depiction rests on the questionable assumption that blacks shared whites’ racist attitudes toward Indians; the latter, more common view treats them as passive victims, stoically enduring discrimination. ” In fact, when uniformed blacks entered the hostile racial climate of western towns, some acquiesced to white racism but others violently resisted.
Lieutenant Colonel Nelson, whose disastrous decision had placed the three within vigilante reach, responded with his own retaliatory measures. On January 14 Nelson sent a Thirty-eighth detachment into Hays City to arrest all persons out after curfew. Black soldiers raided a ballroom and arrested lfty-one people, jailing them overnight at the fort guardhouse. 41 Such drastic steps became unnecessary as a short-lived calm ensued following the lynching. In late January, rustlers stole several head of livestock from the post herd.
22. Leavenworth Daily Conservative, July 10, 1867. 23. For the myth of violence, see Robert R. Dykstra, The Cattle Towns (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966). For a more recent revisionist example, see Ty Cashion’s “(Gun)Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: A Revisionist Look at Violent Fort Grifln,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 99 (July 1995): 81–94. 24. Junction City Weekly Union, 8 May 1869. Black Soldiers at Fort Hays, Kansas 45 25. James D. Drees, “The Hays City Vigilante Period, 1868–1869,” Master’s thesis, Fort Hays State University, 1983, pp.
African Americans on the Great Plains: An Anthology by Bruce A. Glasrud