The history of black economic empowerment in California

The 2010 theme chosen by the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History for Black History Month is particularly relevant to the unique heritage of African-Americans in California.
Parents with students in the state’s public and private schools should be particularly vigilant to insure that the opportunity to focus young people on the connection between their scholarship and their future livelihoods is not missed.
Pinpointing local and statewide history requires more insight and training on the part of educators, but yields much greater impact on students.
In California, the narrative of African-Americans in the state’s history begins with economic, political and military empowerment, a distinct change from the familiar saga of black heritage, told from an English-speaking, Atlantic coast lens.
From San Diego to the northernmost reaches of the Golden State, African-Americans were a significant proportion of the founding residents of many of the state’s cities.
It is a paradigm shift to understand that, in the 1840s, the chief representatives of both Great Britain and the United States, as well as four of Alta California’s jefe politicos (governors) were of African descent.
Each of those figures played key roles in the transition from Mexican to American rule.
The dominant role of black entertainers in the post-Gold Rush era was a function of black ownership of important cultural institutions in the 19th century.
Studying the written record of more than 150 year old black institutions such as churches and lodges reveals unexpected agency in such events as the Underground Railroad and development of jazz music.
Additionally, hundreds of buildings, including residences and businesses, can be found across the state which include important historic legacies of the black experience.
The first multi-property National Register submission of dozens of black heritage sites in San Francisco this month helps pinpoint the national and global impact of little-known but tremendously important figures.
As the leader in publishing on California’s rich African-American heritage, eAccess Corp. has devoted two decades to continuous inquiry about this fascinating history.
Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vols. 1-4 brings together primary sources in three volumes, giving the experience of going directly to the archival locations. Volume 1 covers the period from 1500-1900.
Volume 2 covers the pivotal 50 year period from 1900 to 1950. Volume 3 includes the years from 1950 to 2000.
The fourth volume, The Black Queen: How African-Americans Put California on the Map, gives a thematic approach to the development of lesson plans, using brief biographies of the 150 most historic black Californians, bibliographies and the California history/social science framerwork to dramatically intervene in student achievement.
Within the 1,400 pages and the hour long documentary Our Roots Run Deep are exemplars covering practically every discipline.
In the most recent era, African-Americans were central to the current high technology economy. The new documentary Freedom Riders of the Cutting Edge tells that story through the words of Roy Clay Sr., the late Dr. Frank Greene and Jerry Lawson.
From South Africa to Asia, the global reach of African-Americans connected to California connects with every culture. The Black Students Internet Guide aggregates more than 400 online locations with educationally effective content, including cultural and political institutions across the Diaspora.
The exhibition Catapulting to the Future: the 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology will present the future of black economic empowerment through innovation during a display in Fremont, Oakland and San Jose from Feb. 13 to March 20.
As employment, entrepreneurship and the education to prepare for both become increasingly critical, the past examples of significant African-American economic empowerment in California history give today’s history makers a clear path towards excellence.

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