How to Honor Black History Month in California and State Parks | Cal Parks

How to Honor Black History Month in California and State Parks

Published: January 31, 2022

February marks Black History Month here in the United States and California, and we at California State Parks Foundation would like to give you a few ideas on how to celebrate Black history through experiences in our California state parks! 

Visit Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park 

 

Allensworth, California was founded in 1908 by a group of five Black Americans, led by Colonel Allen Allensworth. The town was meant to be governed, financed, and inhabited by Black Americans after the horrors of the Jim Crow south. Families began to move to the newly purchased land and Allensworth became a thriving town with Black people of many professions. 

Unfortunately, a few years into Allensworth’s founding, the water supply became contaminated, and people began to abandon the town. By 1914, much of the population had relocated, but some remained into the 1960s. Colonel Allensworth himself passed away in 1919 after being struck in a traffic accident. 

In 1972, the property was purchased by the State of California, and in 1974 it was designated a state park by then-governor Ronald Reagan. Today Allensworth holds events, commemorations, and other recreational opportunities for the Central Valley and beyond!  

Start planning your visit here!

 

Visit Folsom Lake State Recreation Area 

folsom

 

The area that is now Folsom Lake State Recreation Area was once a thriving gold mining camp for Black gold miners who had set out to California in hopes of striking it rich. At one point, the camp was thought to have had a population upwards of 600 people. A total of at least 10,000 Black miners would seek gold throughout the Sierras, and Folsom Lake is believed to be one of the earliest established camps for Black miners. 

Read our full blog on Folsom Lake State Recreation area from last year here: https://www.calparks.org/blog/black-history-california-folsom-lake-state-recreation-area 

Start planning your visit here!

 

Visit Old Town San Diego State Historic Park 

 

Allen Light was a Black man who settled in California by way of Philadelphia and obtained Mexican citizenship in 1839. As a free man, Light enjoyed unique aspects of life not common for Black people at the time, and was even appointed by the then-Governor as a game warden. After retiring, Light and another free Black man named Richard Freeman operated a store in what is now Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Freeman died in 1851, and no record of Allen Light was found again until 1948 when his “free papers” were discovered in the wall of Casa de Machado y Silvas in Old Town San Diego as a new heater was being installed. Light’s legacy now lives on through the park and his documents are held at the San Diego Historical Society’s Research Archives. 

 

Visit one of California’s many Black History-centric Museums! 

Across California, there are many museums celebrating and examining Black history in our state.  

Just to name a few: 

 

Stay tuned to California State Parks Foundation’s blog each week in February! 

We’ll be posting a new blog every other week this month about Black history in state parks, and California as a whole! Be sure to follow us @calparks on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for updates and more.