Aug 22, 2008

Fighting for Allensworth

Preserving our history, legacy

(Uncovering Allensworth, part 2)

By Marlene C. Hurd

African Americans must fight daily to preserve our history. There are no easy battles. Our power and victories will only come through unity.
Allensworth, CA–the all-Black town that was governed, financed and run by Africans Americans during the 1900s–had embarked upon a new challenge.
In 2007, two large dairy farms had proposed housing 15,000 cows a just mile and a half across from the Colonel Allensworth Historic Park. The appearance and waste generated from the cows would have disgraced the park’s historical significance, its beauty and its tourist attraction.
As news traveled up and down the state, residents of Tulare County, where the park is located, organized. Eddie Abrams, President and Founder of the Family Resource House of Unity located in Oakland has taken bus loads of Californians and students to Allensworth over the past five years.
African Americans were excited to learn about the legacy Allensworth left, said Abrams.
“News of the dairy farms is not a local problem,” said Abrams. “People all over the nation should be concerned about this happening.”
Californians united to support preserving Allensworth traveling four hours by bus to attend the dairy hearings. The dairy proposal allowed African Americans and Mexican Americans to work together and resolve the Allensworth issues.
Then-Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton), who authored the legislation to create Allensworth State Park Dymally voiced concern that the appearance of the park had declined. To ensure the parks historical significance would not be lost, the “Protect Allensworth State Historical Park Committee was created.
Assemblywomen Wilmer Carter (D-Rialto) authored Assembly Bill 576.
According to the bill, “It would permanently protect the entire perimeter of the town and the park from any such ventures.”
The entire California Legislative Black Caucus including Dymally and Vice-Chair Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), now Assembly Speaker, stood alongside Assemblywoman Carter in support of AB 576.
On August 30, 2007 AB 576 passed in the Senate 23 to 15. As a result of people coming together to protect Allensworth State Historic Park a settlement was reached.
The Farmer was paid $3.5 million to keep his cattle two and a half away from Allensworth .
Unfortunately, due to the rising cost of gas, Abrams will not take bus loads down to Allensworth this year for the “Peace and Unity Day celebration.
The event will be held in Oakland at Merritt College September 20. Plans are still being made for the event.
For more information on the upcoming event contact Eddie Abrams at Family Resource House of Unity at 510 430-9931. •H•

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