Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Jones wore these shoes—made for her 1926 wedding—to countless other events. They reflect her black middle-class status and, paired with her bobbed hair and low necklines, her feminism. Jones’ life story provides insight into critical issues such as slavery, social mobility, racism, and oppression, illustrating what people of color have experienced throughout history and continue to experience today.
After Buchanan Jones’ parents were freed from slavery, they started a family and moved to Denver in 1882, part of a wave of freed slaves seeking new lives outside regions where they had previously suffered. Buchanan Jones was born in Denver, and eventually attended the University of Colorado Boulder. In 1918, she became the first Black woman to graduate from CU, but was denied recognition. Although Buchanan Jones was handed her diploma, just before she was set to walk at commencement, subtle but purposeful actions orchestrated by school officials quietly blocked her public participation in the ceremony. Offended by the indignity, Buchanan vowed never to return to CU, and she never did. Buchanan was overlooked in the university’s history for nearly a century. Her story adds a layer of nuance to our shared storytelling that is often lost among dominant narratives - a reminder to continue to look beyond the most commonly accepted versions of our collective Colorado history.
Lucile Berkelely Buchanan Jones’ life story provides insight into critical issues such as slavery, social mobility, racism, and oppression, offering an illustrative example of what people of color have experienced throughout history and continue to experience today. Buchanan Jones is one of many from a generation of Black people who moved up through previous social boundaries, only to be knocked back by revised institutional barriers. Bespoke from the Louvre Boot Company in Kansas City for her wedding in 1926, these shoes were worn by Buchanan Jones to countless other events around that time. They were indicative of her Black middle-class status and, paired with her bobbed hair and low necklines, her feminism. She would have often worn them as part of the elevated dress code among game-goers attending all-Black baseball league games, of which Buchanan Jones was a fan. Very few of her personal effects remain. When she was removed from her Denver home at the age of 103, these shoes were among her keepsake possessions - precious physical tokens of her life experiences.
Museum of Boulder
Boulder, CO 80302