- A Brief Introduction to the Movement
- To Stay or To Go?: The National Emigration Convention of 1854
- The 1853 Manual Labor College Initiative
- Bishop Henry McNeal Turner
- Mobility, Migration, and the 1855 Philadelphia National Convention
- Henry Highland Garnet's "Address"
- What Did They Eat? Where Did They Stay?
- Black Wealth and the 1843 Convention
- Black Women's Economic Power
- The First National Convention
- The "Conventions" of the Conventions: Political Rituals
- A National Press? The 1847 National Convention and the North Star
- Equality Before the Law: California Black Convention Activism, 1855-65
- Conflict on the Ohio: The 1858 Convention in Cincinnati
- The Post-Bellum Conventions Movement and the Emigration Debate
- Conventions by City
- National Conventions
- Women Delegates
- Women in the Conventions
- Convention Hosts by Denomination
- Conventions by Level
- Clusters of Conventions
- Colored Conventions in Canada
- Women in the Conventions | March 8, 2017
- Douglass Day
- About Us
- Contact Us
The men and women who built California's African American communities and participated in the mid-nineteenth-century Colored Conventions shared histories of migration that linked them to free and enslaved Blacks in the eastern part of the United States. Some, like 1855 California Convention President William Yates and convention delegate James Starkey, had purchased themselves from slavery before making the long migration to Gold Rush California. Some, like delegate and newspaper editor Mifflin W. Gibbs, had been prominent in abolitionist circles and fugitive slave resistance in the northeast before they headed westward. Other noted African American community leaders in California, such as Biddy Mason, arrived as enslaved laborers and fought for their freedom in California courts. Some, such as the West Indian born seaman Wellington Delany Moses, arrived in California from beyond US borders and eventually joined the California Colored Conventions movement.
All of these men and women whose lives are featured in this section of the exhibit strove to achieve economic self-sufficiency and lives of dignity within the heavily racialized climate of the new state of California. Theirs was a collective struggle that extended to finding family members lost through slave sale and purchasing family members still in bondage (see the stories of Nancy Gooch and James Starkey). They fought exclusionary policies such as the law that barred Black testimony in court and segregated municipal public transportation. While some put down deep roots in California, others-- like Nancy and Peter Lester who moved with hundreds of other African Americans to British Columbia in 1858-- moved on, still looking for that promised land beyond the threat of violence and racial discrimination.
Browse biographies using the right-hand menu. Browse images related to biographies by clicking a photo below.
In addition to these biographies produced by Occidental College undergraduates, please click here for more biographies of men and women associated with the first 1855 California State Convention, researched and written by undergraduate students of Prof. Jean Pfaelzer, English 341, University of Delaware, Spring 2014.