Artist Adri Norris making progress on the Five Points Plus exhibit mural.

We Are Colorado

Black History & Heritage

You cannot have a thorough understanding of American history unless you have an understanding of how the Black experience has impacted our country. History Colorado is dedicated to sharing a holistic view of historic events that include the perspectives of all people. This page is dedicated to highlighting the contributions made by people who identify as Black, African-American, or generally part of the African diaspora, as it relates to the history of the West. History Colorado creates a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. 

Dr. Carlotta LaNier at the Bold Women. Change History. opening event at the History Colorado Center
Volunteer Family Day participants making cloth dog toys for dogs in animal shelters
An elderly Black woman, Lucy Walker, is seated in a colorful shawl before a sign which reads Eden Theatrical Workshop (since 1963)
A statuette depicts a man in three stages. The lowest level depicts him crouched in bondage, wearing the chains of a slave. The second level depicts him crouched with a gold pan. The third level at the peak of the plinth shows him standing tall and proud.
Adri Norris, a Black woman, and a man of asian descent dance and celebrate with their fists raised in front of a colorful mural.
A claw-hook hammer of old fashioned design, with a worn wooden handle and a sturdy metal head.
Rise Jones, a community storyteller as part of the Five Points Museum of Memory project, at the opening of the Five Points Plus exhibit at the History Colorado Center.
A pen and ink drawing of James Beckwourth, a Black fur trapper.
Artist Adri Norris making progress on the Five Points Plus exhibit mural.
A group of people stand in front of a farm or small homestead. One is a black man in a business suit. Around him stand several Indigenous (Ute) adults, and near him stand two  Ute children.
A Kramerica student volunteers with Family Day participants to make decorative bags for goods to be distributed to people in need. 
An architectural sketch depicting a building.
A Black soldier stands at attention in his parade uniform, with a saber in one hand.

Who’s Hoo? - 

The Owl Club’s debutante debuts set the stage for many prestigious African Americans in the Mile High City.

Sanctuary, Refuge, and Shelter - 

A cornerstone of the African American community in Pueblo, First AME Church honors and shares its history as it pursues historic designation.

A Mile-High Life in Barbecue: "Daddy" Bruce Randolph, Sr. - 

Colorado's most prominent pitmaster in the twentieth century, "Daddy" Bruce was as famous for his generosity as he was for his sauce.

The Little World Series of the West: Integrating Baseball in Denver - 

Black baseball players shaped the game and American society beyond the ballfield. It’s a story that runs, surprisingly, straight through Denver and an event that called itself “The Little World Series of the West.”

Don’t Leave Home Without Your Green Book: The Black Travel Experience in Colorado During the Jim Crow Era - 

During the rise of auto travel for both business and leisure in the twentieth century, the Green Book helped Black travelers safely navigate their road trips and boost Black businesses along the way.

“Curse of a Nation”: Denver Black Newspapers Respond to the Debut of “Birth of a Nation” - 

How Denver’s Black newspapers raised the alarm and rallied the resistance against one of Hollywood’s first—and most notoriously racist—blockbusters.

The John R. Henderson Collection: Colorado’s First Licensed Black Architect - 

On October 7, 1959, John R. Henderson, Jr. registered to practice architecture in Colorado, becoming the first licensed Black architect in the state.

Health, Recreation, Education, and Uplift: Lincoln Hills and Black Recreation in the Colorado Mountains - 

When temperatures soared in cramped, noisy cities, Colorado’s higher elevations promised chilly nights and mild days spent fishing, camping, and hiking under shady pine trees. Unlike their white counterparts, however, African Americans could not head just anywhere in the mountains. Not far outside of Denver, Lincoln Hills, a vacation community developed for Black people, represented both an escape from the city and an escape from segregation.

We Can’t Afford to Fail This Time - 

On the evening of July 12, 1967, in Newark, New Jersey, two white police officers badly beat a black cab driver named John William Smith in the course of arresting him for a traffic violation. News of this spread like wildfire through the African American community, and angry crowds gathered outside the police station.

James Beckwourth: African Americans in History and the West - 

There are countless examples of African Americans who left their mark on every stage of history, despite societal and cultural obstacles in the way. However, their stories are often not told or represented either during their lifetime or after. One who defied all constraints of the time and whose name became famous nationwide both during his lifetime and long after his death was James P. Beckwourth.

You Don't Know Barney Ford - 

Cathay Williams/William Cathay: Buffalo Soldier - 

Cathay Williams was an African American Woman who was conscripted to work as General Philip Sheridan's cook during the Civil War. When the war was over, she wanted to join one of the all-Black Army Regiments that later became known as the “Buffalo Soldiers." But women weren't allowed to serve at that time. So she put on men's clothes, changed her name to William Cathay, and spent the next three years as a Buffalo Soldier in the "Wild West."

The Original BlacKkKlansman - 

Game Changers - 

One hundred years ago, a pitcher with a nasty curveball and a mind for business named Rube Foster formed "the Negro Leagues." In a story that in many ways mirrors American history from Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans in baseball shaped the game and American society beyond the ballfield. It’s a story that runs, surprisingly, straight through Denver and an event that called itself “The Little World Series of the West.”

The Dearest Field - 

In the aftermath of the American Civil War, all-Black settlements sprang up throughout the West as formerly enslaved people and their descendants sought to build a better life.