Melissa Stuckey: Research Matters Fall 2011

“Why Oklahoma? All-Black Towns and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Indian Territory,” by Melissa H. Stuckey, Assistant Professor, UO Department of History

Melissa Stuckey’s paper is now available online in the Fall 2011 issue of CSWS Research Matters.

From her paper:

“For many people it comes as a surprise to learn that dozens of all-black towns were established in Oklahoma during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Two of the most frequent questions that I receive when relaying this fact are: ‘Why all-black towns?’ and ‘Why Oklahoma?’ My response to these questions tends to begin with an understanding nod and smile. Indeed, it was my own very similar set of questions that drew me to the study of Oklahoma’s black towns more than ten years ago.

“My forthcoming book, tentatively titled Race, Rights, and Power: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Boley, Oklahoma, sheds new light on the history of all-black towns in Oklahoma through the story of Boley, the largest all-black town in the United States. Boley was one of over a dozen black towns founded in Indian Territory (the eastern half of the current state of Oklahoma). The towns attracted thousands of African Americans seeking to escape the racism and violence that dominated the American landscape during the Jim Crow era, and to live their lives independent of white surveillance and control. As one settler explained: In Boley, ‘nobody came in and tried to tell them what they could do and what they couldn’t do.’” For the full text …