Come celebrate Juneteenth in Allensworth State Park! There will be food and drink, a guided tour of its nine historic buildings, and someterrific speakers.
When Lt.Col. Allen Allensworth established it back in 1908, it was the only town in California founded, financed and governed by black Americans.
Born into slavery, Allensworth was the original black “gangsta.” When he wasn’t being punished for trying to escape, he was being punished for trying to learn how to read and write.
In the eyes of the slaveowners, that latter “crime” made him extremely dangerous — and if you look at it from their point of view, they were absolutely right.
During the Civil War, he finally made good his escape and joined the Union Army, eventually becoming a chaplain.
The decades that followed the end of the war may have brought emancipation for the slaves, but they also brought legalized discrimination, harassment, lynching, right into the 20th century.
With little hope that things would be better anytime soon in the old Dirty South, Allensworth turned his eyes west. He wanted to create a town where black families could own their own homes, their own land, run their own farms and control their own destinies, beyond the reach of Jim Crow.
No oppression. No artificial barriers. No excuses. No fear.
Allensworth can be reached from Los Angeles or San Francisco by car. From Los Angeles, take Interstate 5 and state Highway 99 north to Delano, then head west on Graces Highway to the Central Valley Highway, aka state Highway 43. Turn north again to Allensworth.
From Northern California, take I-5 south to the Paso Robles Highway, aka state Highway 46. Head east to the Central Valley Highway, and there turn north to Allensworth.