There are so many lost black stories hidden inside the crevasses of American history. Some of these stories are fascinating, but to find them you’ve got to do some serious digging.
History books paint a bleak existence for blacks in America during the end of the nineteenth century. But slavery and bondage weren’t the only lives for a black person in the early 1900s.
Blacks all over the country were building communities to escape persecution from white landowners and the Klu Klux Klan.
While researching some of these communities I came across the story of Georgia native Francis Marion Boyer, who didn’t want to live under the thumb of the Klu Klux Klan any longer.
After the Civil War in 1865, the Klu Klux Klan made it their mission to terrorize blacks all over the country and squash any newly gained civil and political rights by blacks in the south.
The KKK was dangerous their members were able to hide among neighbors and keep their identities a secret. A white person you saw every day could be the same person terrorizing your family once the sunset.
Francis Marion Boyer Walks From Georgia To New Mexico
In the late 1890s, a black barber was killed in Georgia by a white man who was eventually arrested and charged with the murder. But during his trial, he was acquitted by an all-white jury in less than 10 minutes. The case infuriated black Georgians all over the state, including Francis Marion Boyer. The south felt like a place that would never be safe if your skin wasn’t of white complexion.
Shortly after the trial, Boyer would have his own life threatened by the Klu Klux Klan. Married with a family, Boyer worried if he didn’t come up with a plan for his family the death threats would continue and his family would never be safe.
Boyer, who attended both Morehouse College and Fisk University was a teacher in Georgia. While in college he learned about homesteading and all of its requirements.
The Southern Homestead Act of 1866 allowed the selling of land for low prices so southerners could afford the land, but only free blacks and white Unionists were allowed to buy land at the time.
By 1876, free blacks entered about 6,5000 homestead claims, which resulted in about 1,000 getting property certificates.
Boyer understood the politics behind homesteading, all he needed was a loan and some land, but where in the world would a community of free blacks be welcomed in America?
Boyer’s father was a Buffalo Soldier during the Mexican-American War and as a child, he heard stories about vast lands in the New Mexico Territory that were free of persecution from whites, but the land was far away. Even though Boyer was free and educated he didn’t own transportation that could get him from Georgia to New Mexico– so, he walked.
In 1899, Francis Boyer and Dan Keyes packed small bags and set up to walk from Georgia to New Mexico to start a new life. It took them almost a year to walk the 2,000 miles across the southern region of the United States.
The Black New Mexico Town of ‘Blackdom’
When Boyer arrived in New Mexico in 1900 he took a job as a cook on a chuck wagon for about three months. He then worked as a ranch hand and a year later would send for his family. They settled in a nearby neighborhood called Rosewell but the plan was to start their own town. In 1903 Boyer and twelve other black homesteaders would create the Blackdom Townsite Company with the idea of creating a self-sustaining community free of white persecution.
Boyer and his family offered housing for newcomers, they put out ads in newspapers all over the country and promoted free living from blacks. His family also made education a priority amongst the town dynamics. Blackdom established a church that was the home of the town’s community school. By 1908, Blackdom had become a popular back town with 300 residents, local businesses, and a newspaper. Black homesteaders in the 1900s were pioneers for their period, but they still weren’t given access to desirable lands.
Instead, they made do with the deserts of New Mexico until Mother Nature had her way. The town of Blackdom would find its growth stunted but the drought of 1916 and by the late 1920s the town of Blackdom was no more. Most of its residents had deserted the town in search of better lands to cultivate.
Even though Blackdom was seen as a failure, it truly was a testament to the fortitude of Black people during a time of contestant turmoil and terror. Stories like these are rarely told in the history book, but paint a different picture of black American history. One that shows us we were much more than property to a white slave owner. Now, all that remains from the town a blackdom is a plaque on the side of a highway, but its legacy should never be forgotten.
50 Books Every Black Teen Should Read
1. “Assata: An Autobiography” by Assata Shakur1 of 49
2. “Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison2 of 49
3. “Visions for Black Men” by Na’im Akbar3 of 49
4. “The Coldest Winter Ever” by Sister Souljah4 of 49
5. “Dreams from My Father” by Barack Obama5 of 49
6. “Sag Harbor” by Colson Whitehead6 of 49
7. “Monster” by Walter Dean Myers7 of 49
8. “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe8 of 49
9. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston9 of 49
10. “When Chickenheads Come Home To Roost” by Joan Morgan10 of 49
11. “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” as told to Alex Haley11 of 49
12. “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison12 of 49
13. “Interiors: A Black Woman’s Healing…in Progress” by Iyanla Vanzant13 of 49
14. “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison14 of 49
15. “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker15 of 49
16. “Blues People” by Amiri Baraka16 of 49
17. “Our Kind of People” by Lawrence Otis Graham17 of 49
18. “Picking Cotton” by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino18 of 49
19. “What is the What” by Dave Eggers19 of 49
20. “Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center” by bell hooks20 of 49
21. “Soledad Brother” by George Jackson21 of 49
22. “Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America” by Nathan McCall22 of 49
23. “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz23 of 49
24. “Good To Great” by Jim Collins24 of 49
25. “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin25 of 49
26. “Down These Mean Streets” by Piri Thomas26 of 49
27. “Flyy Girl” by Omar Tyree27 of 49
28. “Summer Of My German Soldier” by Bette Greene28 of 49
29. “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry29 of 49
30. “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn30 of 49
31. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou31 of 49
32. “Miles: The Autobiography” by Miles Davis32 of 49
33. “Invisible Life” by E. Lynn Harris33 of 49
34. “Kaffir Boy” by Mark Mathabane34 of 49
35. “Kindred” by Octavia Butler35 of 49
36. “Letter to My Daughter” by Maya Angelou36 of 49
37. “Manchild in the Promised Land” by Claude Brown37 of 49
38. “Mis-Education of the Negro” by Carter G. Woodsen38 of 49
39. “If Beale Street Could Talk” by James Baldwin39 of 49
40. “Nile Valley Contributions To Civilization” by Tony Browder40 of 49
41. “I Am Not Sidney Poitier” by Percival Everett41 of 49
42. “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell42 of 49
43. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki43 of 49
44. “Roots” by Alex Haley44 of 49
45. “Sula” by Toni Morrison45 of 49
46. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho46 of 49
47. “Who Am I Without Him?” by Sharon Flake47 of 49
48. “Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northup48 of 49
49. “Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine” by Bebe Moore Campbell49 of 49
A Black Man Once Walked 2,000 Miles To Start A Town In New Mexico Called ‘Blackdom’ was originally published on newsone.com