Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vols. 1-4 is a 1,400 page chronicle of the centrality of blacks in California heritage from the naming of the area in the 1500s to the present.
It has been updated to integrate with the California content standards and to include new discoveries from recent exhibitions in Los Angeles and San Francisco — the first black company to record a jazz record; the first black woman to publish a cookbook and the site of the first jazz club and jazz band in history.
Volume One also includes the translation of Las Serges de Esplandian, the 1510 epic describing California as an island populated only by black women, which Cortes sought out with his party of 300 African conquistadors in the 1530s.
Volume Four, The Black Queen: How African-Americans Put California on the Map, is designed for frequent classroom usage with 12 thematic lesson plans, bibliographies and the 150 most important blacks in California history. The package also includes a DVD of Our Roots Run Deep documentary, a 56-minute public television show; Black Heritage as Gap Closer, a research study on the capacity of California educators to provide culturally-responsive instruction in social studies, Come to the Water: Sharing the Rich Black Experience in San Francisco, a tourist guide to the city’s 300 black historic sites, 50 black restaurants and 100 churches, the Black Students Internet Guide, a resource for 400 sites with educational content geared to learners of African descent, and the new documentary Freedom Riders of the Cutting Edge, a chronicle of early black technology pioneers in the earliest days of Silicon Valley.
Editor John William Templeton also contributed “African-Americans in the West” to the Oxford Encyclopedia of African American History. Co-editor of Volume 2 is Agin Shaheed, a San Diego education administrator and grandson of the first African-American administrator in Los Angeles public schools.
Volume orders also include training in culturally-responsive instruction using California African-Ameircan heritage. A showing of the play Queen Calafia: Ruler of California, which excited hundreds of San Francisco students is slated in February 2010 in Oakland.
“OUR ROOTS RUN DEEP: THE BLACK EXPERIENCE IN CALIFORNIA, 1500-1900 is an effective reference book for researchers from a variety of backgrounds,from students to interested community members. This book is jam-packed with excerpts from primary source material: the reader can hear the voice of civil-rights activist and entrepreneur, Mary Ellen Pleasant; read the Gold Rush diary of Alvin Coffey; and experience the verbatim testimony of Charlotte Brown in her 1863 discrimination case against the street car company.
In addition, the book contains a number of essays from historians and other academics, many reprinted from books that are rare or out-of-print. OUR ROOTS RUN DEEP pulls together a large overview of the experience of the Black community in California, incorporating both original voices and reliable historical analysis.”
Manager, San Francisco History Center
San Francisco Public Library