Friday 1 September 2023


Do you know that more than 1,200 Black settlements, enclaves, and towns were established in the United States between the late 18th and early 20th centuries? 

Of these towns, 50 to 60 were legally incorporated in 19 states from 1865 to 1915. These communities grew out of a desire African Americans had to re-establish kinship ties, self-govern, and develop independent enterprises after Emancipation. Businesses, schools, churches, and benevolent societies fused African rituals and traditions with the American ideals of freedom, independence, and citizenship – despite facing outside discrimination and racism.

Many followed the example set by the earliest Black settlement in what is now the present-day United States, Fort Mose, (pronounced “MOH-SAY”) founded in 1738, along the northern border of St. Augustine FL. The settlement offered liberty and religious sanctuary to Africans who self-emancipated and journeyed to Spanish-held St. Augustine. These men, women and children were granted asylum by the Spanish government, and in exchange, they had to convert to Catholicism and the men had to serve a term of military service in the Spanish army.

The town was initially inhabited by more than 100 free Black men and women. Colonial archives of Spain, Florida, Cuba, and South Carolina document that by 1759 Fort Mose consisted of 22 palm thatch huts which housed 37 men, 15 women, 7 boys and 8 girls.

๐Ÿ“ธ Men gathered for a State Funeral Directors' meeting c. 1926 in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Princetta R. Newman

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