EARLIMART, Calif. (KERO) — Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park and organization, Friends of Allensworth held a rededication event in celebration of African American history.
Allensworth is the only California town to be founded, financed, and governed by African Americans. In honor of the event, Amtrak San Joaquins gave visitors a ride from Bakersfield to Allensworth so they could be apart of it.
When visitors arrived at Allensworth, they were taken back in time to a town founded in 1908 by a group of men led by Colonel Allen Allensworth, who many look up to today.
“Colonel Allensworth was a chaplain within the Buffalo soldiers system that’s why the Buffalo Soldiers presence here was so prominent," William Broomfield said.
David Jones arrived on horseback with the goal of educating visitors about the African American soldiers who acted as the first park rangers.
“This is what a 1866 to 1890 Calvary soldier, particularly, buffalo soldier would have looked like so when you look at all of the stuff that is on this horse it is to period correctness. Same as my attire and everything else, This is how we try to represent the history to let them know how hard it was, how difficult it was for these men and the Calvary was the worst of the worst duties. It was not one that people wanted because you’d be out in the middle of nowhere just you and you’re horse,” Jones said.
“They built roads, they protected the settlers who were coming out here. This was a lawless area, there weren’t any police to speak of out here so they became the police," Bakersfield Buffalo Soldiers Major General, Walter Slade said.
According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, after Allensworth's retirement from the service, he created the town as an independent and self-governed ranching and farming colony for free blacks.
“Think about how they made money and how they were able to take something no one else wanted and turn it into a growing community,” Gail Crooms said.
The town even established California's first African American school district. Gail Crooms with Global Economic Impact Group says there is still so much more to learn about the towns success.
“How did they get to grow the crops that they did and able to sell them and continue to thrive," Crooms said.
After Allensworth died, there were many challenges blocking the town's long-term survival, so in 1974 California State Parks purchased the land to maintain it as a site for visitors to learn and explore.
“If history is not told its history lost," Broomfield said.
Now, organizations like the Global Economic Impact Group is collaborating with the state parks system with plans to continue educating the community and also revitalize the area.
“We’re going to be building other amenities that will support this park where we can get other people here so they can know the history. We’re going to add a visitors center, we want to add a museum here, we want to bring the African American or black farmers back here that were here in the state in the past so that we can tell the story of the black farmers and why they became here and the prominence and what made them grow.”
The park is open to visitors everyday from 10am to 4pm. More information can be found here on the California Department of Parks and Recreation website.