Biography / Administrative History
Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park Advisory Committee audio recordings collection
Collection number: MS 208
Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park Advisory Committee.
.75 linear feet
African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
Abstract: Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park was California’s first state historical park designated to African-American pioneers.
The Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park Advisory Committee audio recordings collection consists of 22 audiocassette of
regional meetings, public hearings, and oral history interviews with the townspeople of Allensworth.
Languages represented in the collection:
No access restrictions. Collection is open to the public.
Materials are for use in-library only, non-circulating.
Permission to publish must be obtained from the African American Museum & Library at Oakland.
Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park Advisory Committee Audio Recordings Collection, MS 208, African American Museum &
Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.
Processed by Sean Dickerson.
Biography / Administrative History
While working as a draftsperson for the California State Parks department in 1969, landscape architect Cornelius "Ed" Pope
noticed that there were no state parks in California dedicated to the history of African-Americans in California. Inspired
to sustain the momentum of the Civil Rights Movement in the wake of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, Pope identified
Allensworth, California, the first, last, and only town in California founded, financed, and governed by African Americans
as an ideal historic district to fill that absence. Pope had attended elementary school in Allensworth while his family lived
in Colonel Allen Allensworth’s former home from 1938 to 1940. Together with Eugene and Ruth Lasartemay of the East Bay Negro
Historical Society, Pope successfully lobbied state park officials and state legislators to consider the feasibility of a
State Historic Park at Allensworth, helping to shepherd the project through the community review process.
Appointed in October 1969 by California Department of Parks and Recreation director William Penn Mott, Jr., the Colonel Allensworth
State Historic Park Advisory Committee was established to “provide for the public a historical prospectus of the Black American,
his role, his contributions, and concerns.” Members of the Advisory Committee included Elena Albert, Cecil Berkley, Hattie
Crawford, Earle Fletcher, Marcella Ford, Edward France, chairman Dr. Kenneth Goode, vice-chairman Alfred Green, secretary
Kathryn Green, Dr. Ernest Hartzog, Gemelia Herring, James Holloway, Grandvel Jackson (President of the San Francisco branch
of the NAACP), Marty Jenkins, Leamon King, treasurer Eugene Lasartemay, Ruth Lasartemay, Gaynelle Miles-Green, Frances R.
Miller, Cecil B. Murrell, C.J. Patterson, Ben F. Peery, Cornelius “Ed” Pope, George W. Pope, Willie Pope, Jefferson Pierro,
Josephine B. Smith, Dr. Robert Thornton, Royal E. Towns, Dr. Robert Trotter, Flo Williams, Vassie D. Wright, and Margaret
Wheaton. The committee was chaired by Dr. Kenneth Goode, Assistant to the Chancellor at the University of California, Berkeley,
while Alfred Green served as chairman for the Subcommittees on Land Acquisition and Site Planning. Green, a building contractor
in Los Angeles, had also assisted in authoring the 1969 Watts Redevelopment Project Plan.
In 1971, the legislature requested the
Allensworth Feasibility Study, which confirmed Pope’s earlier findings of the glaring deficit of African-American sites within California’s state park
system and in 1972 the Allensworth Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places. By 1973, the state
had acquired the land, and the Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park Advisory Committee, under the direction of Dr. Kenneth
Goode, began work on further land acquisition and site planning. In May 1976, the state Department of Parks and Recreation
approved plans to develop the park, and on October 9, 1976, the park was dedicated. The Colonel Allensworth State Historic
Park Advisory Committee continued to operate under Al Green and later Alice C. Royal to proceed with preservation, restoration
and development of the park. Under Alice C. Royal the Advisory Committee produced staffing reports and resource management
plans and promoted the Allensworth townspeople as beneficiaries of the park under the Allensworth Citizens Council. Alice
C. Royal is the author of
Allensworth, the Freedom Colony: A California African American Township.
Allensworth, California, was founded in 1908 through the California Colony and Home Promoting Association by former slave
and retired army chaplain Lieutenant Colonel Allen Allensworth, together with Professor William A. Payne, retired miner John
W. Palmer, African Methodist Episcopal Church Minister Dr. William H. Peck, and real-estate specialist Harvey Mitchell. Admirers
and contemporaries of Booker T. Washington, Allensworth and his colleagues sought to acquire land and create a self-sustaining
African-American colony away from socioeconomic stagnation and racial segregation. Although the community only flourished
for a short time, over the next decade some three hundred African-American pioneers had established a self-sufficient farming
community with its own school, church, businesses, and municipal government.
Scope and Content of Collection
The Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park Advisory Committee audio recordings collection consists of 22 audiocassettes.
These recordings provide insight into the concerns and activities of the Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park Advisory
Committee, which was organized to support and advise the State Parks Commission as to the development of the Colonel Allensworth
State Historic Park. Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park was California’s first state historical park designated to African-American
pioneers and along with George Washington Carver State Park in Bartow, Georgia, one of the first parks in the nation dedicated
to African-American history. Recordings include regional meetings, public hearings, and oral history interviews with the townspeople
Series I. Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park Advisory Committee cassette tapes
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
California. Department of Parks and Recreation
Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park (Calif.)
Historic sites--Conservation and restoration--California--Allensworth.
National Register of Historic Places
African American Museum & Library at Oakland Vertical File Collection, African American Museum & Library at Oakland, Oakland
Allensworth Materials, Tulare County Library: Annie R. Mitchell History Room
Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park Photographic Collection, California State Parks Photographic Archives
Royal E. Towns Papers, African American Museum & Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library