History Colorado strives to be a place of belonging for all Coloradans. In our blogs, our publications, our exhibits and more, we tell the stories of Colorado's most influential African Americans, along with lesser-told tales of the state's African American past.
This exhibit focuses on the opportunities black soldiers found in the military, and the controversies that surrounded them, during the Plains Indian Wars period from 1866 through 1891.
After the Civil War, many black soldiers eagerly responded to the government’s call for troops to help create permanent settlements in the West. Segregated black units were formed and over 10,000 black soldiers moved west to help create a new way of life they hoped their people would be able to share. The 9th cavalry of the U. S. Army was garrisoned at Fort Garland.
The exhibit contains rare historic photographs of the Buffalo Soldiers in combat, on patrol, in the barracks, at work, and at rest. Also on view are fascinating artifacts including everyday items used by the Buffalo Soldiers.
In light of Black History Month and the ongoing struggle for racial equality, it seems fitting to explore Denver’s rich history of African American activism. Although Denver is not commonly associated with civil rights activism, black Coloradans have long been active participants in the struggle against racial oppression. This was no less true during the first half of the twentieth century.
Next week we observe the formal end of slavery in the United States on Juneteenth. Although President Lincoln gave his Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865 that Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting Emma Azalia Smith Hackley, a former resident of Denver and co-editor of the newspaper the Statesman. The Statesman, which later became The Denver Star, will be the first of 18 titles History Colorado is digitizing to add to the Library of Congress Chronicling America database. If you’d like to learn more about History Colorado’s participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program, please follow this link.
In honor of African American History Month, we are excited to share some original photographs of Colorado’s influential black pioneers. Culling from the museum’s extensive photography collection, each week we’ll post a photograph on social media, accompanied by a blog post about that pioneer’s life and achievements.
We’ll highlight four African American pioneers who, like so many settlers who made the journey westward, overcame significant obstacles in creating a life in Colorado. Hailing from different eras and a range of professions, each left indelible impressions on history and their environs. Despite their differences, they share a core set of characteristics: fearless vision, unbreakable resolve, and a tenacious determination to achieve one’s goals. As a result, their contributions have shaped the course of Colorado history.
I always thought that historic preservation simply implied that a building was saved from demolition. I was wrong. After an eye-opening internship with History Colorado’s Preservation Programs as a first semester graduate student, I realized that historic preservation is so much more than saving bricks and mortar -- it’s about preserving the memories of the people who used and loved those buildings. Additionally, losing those old buildings severs our ties to the past and the stories that evolved within those structures. Many times, they are the stories of people often forgotten in history. One of the greatest local examples of keeping our connection to the past, and one that intertwined with my family history, is the story of Dr. Justina Ford.
Since our nation’s bicentennial in 1976, Americans have recalled and honored the often-overlooked stories and experiences of black Americans during African American History Month. Those looking to discover and celebrate these stories need only explore Colorado’s special places.
We’re starting a new blog series called Colorado's Reel History to showcase some of the many newspapers in our collection. This month we feature the Statesman/Denver Star, a weekly paper founded in 1888 that served African American communities in the Rocky Mountain West. Check out some of the headlines in the slideshow below, then read on for more information about the influence this paper had on the community it served.
In September 2016, History Colorado started work on the Colorado Digital Newspaper Project, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, to digitize 20 historic Colorado newspapers. Our first title, the Statesman, which later became the Denver Star, is now available—for free—on the Library of Congress Chronicling America website.