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Kalenda Eaton and Heidi Dodson: Oklahoma’s Black Homesteaders

Virtual talk

5:30 pm–7:00 pm
Center for Great Plains Studies Room: Virtual
1155 Q St.
Lincoln NE 68588
Directions: 11th and Q streets
Katie Nieland, (402) 472-3965,
Join the Oklahoma Black Homesteader Project research team for a public talk on Black homesteaders in Oklahoma Territory. The presentation will discuss the process of researching and locating specific homesteading families. There will be a focus on select counties and a preview of new archival research that expands common understandings of the Black homesteading experience.

This event is intended for a general audience and no prior knowledge is necessary. Attendees will learn about the complex history of Black homesteading in Oklahoma and delve into the specifics of selected homesteaders. The talk will be recorded and posted afterward.

Dr. Kalenda Eaton is the Director of Oklahoma Research for the Black Homesteaders Project and an Associate Professor of African & African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. She is a Humanities scholar focused on African American western studies, intersections of Black literary and gender studies; African American social and cultural history; and Black Diaspora studies.

Dr. Heidi Dodson is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Black Homesteaders Project. She is a historian specializing in late nineteenth and twentieth-century African American community building, migration, social movements, and oral history.

The Oklahoma Black Homesteading Project (OBHP) seeks to recover, reevaluate, and reclaim histories of rural African Americans in Oklahoma Territory pre-statehood (1907) and beyond. Between 1889-1907, thousands of African Americans emigrated into the Oklahoma district of Indian Territory in search of the freedom to exist outside Jim Crow policies and “Black Codes” that limited civil liberties and rights in other parts of the United States. Many of the individuals and families who relocated formed tight-knit, all-Black communities in areas inside and outside of newly established townships in northwestern, central, and southern counties. These homesteading communities with names like “Sweet Home,” “Elbow,” and “Lincoln City” served as glimpses into the possibilities of equality and autonomy. While there are many examples of successful relocation, hundreds of new Black residents were also prevented from remaining on their claims due to very little capital or political power and persistent anti-Black racism in what soon became an increasingly hostile and unwelcoming racialized environment. The OBHP hopes to foster complex and rich conversations about how the history of Oklahoma is connected to the promises and ideals of Black freedom locally and nationwide. The OBHP will serve as a digital archive of census data, maps, visual guides, oral histories, narratives, and scholarship chronicling this period in American history.

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This event originated in Center for Great Plains Studies.