Black migrants with hopes for a new start free of the barriers of white racism did not find a promised land awaiting them in California. Yet, the rapid succession of four California state conventions indicates how quickly Black men and women began to work together toward their vision of achieving economic, civil, and human rights. As noted historian of the Black West Quintard Taylor has observed, the collective energy and creativity that African Americans poured into political organizing in California challenged stock images of rugged individualism of the American West.


Curators: Gabriel Barrett-Jackson, Emma Cones, Christina Delany, Lindsay Drapkin, Lila Gyory, Sydney Hemmindinger, Rosa Pleasant, Reilly Torres, Victoria Walker, Daniel Waruingi. Created for Prof. Sharla Fett’s History 213 Class, Occidental College, Spring 2016.

Edited by Sharla Fett, David Kim, P. Gabrielle Foreman, Sarah Patterson, and Samantha de Vera.

Cover Image Photograph of the Gooch-Monroe family. Courtesy of the El Dorado County Historical Museum.

Special thanks to Gale, a Cengage Company, and Accessible Archives Inc.® for granting permission for the use of the materials from 19th Century U.S. Newspaper and African American Newspapers: The 19th Century.

The Colored Conventions Project works with teaching partners and their students to create digital content on the rich history of Black political organizing in the nineteenth-century. Visit our Teaching Partners page to browse the curriculum and find information on becoming a teaching partner.