November 21, 2011

California Forever Documentary

Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park is one of the parks in the new documentary “California Forever: The Story of California State Parks.” The Backcountry Pictures INC production will be shown on KQED in 2012.

Forever California will let you experience the beginning of the California State Parks movement; witness the battles and challenges of keeping our state parks open; and celebrate the victories.

Backcountry Pictures has been invited to show California Forever at the SYRCL’s (South Yuba River Citizens League) 10th Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival, January 13-15, 2012 in the historic downtown of Nevada City, California.

You can view the California Forever trailer on the Backcountry Pictures website.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

November 17, 2011

Tribute to the Spirit of Allensworth

Visalia artist Stephen Diamant has made the hour long drive down highway 99 to Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park numerous times and has come to feel that the story of Allensworth is so valuable to understanding our history that he built a tribute to the spirit of Allensworth. “Work The Dream” is the latest addition to the permanent collection of The African-American Historical & Cultural Museum of the San Joaquin Valley.

Diamant found the figures on the 4 foot by 4 foot piece in a Visalia antique shop. He said “I found them interesting because they represented ethnic stereotypes which challenged me to find a suitable arena to display them.”

Before finding a permanent home “Work The Dream” was displayed at the International Agri-Center during the 2011 Southern California Edison Black History program and as part of the Arts Visalia gallery’s 2011 kick-off show in February. Diamant believes “Work The Dream” is “an ongoing work because every aspect in the setting represents to me a piece of the life that existed in that historical setting. I even have a small Klan logo placed somewhere in the exhibit.”

The African-American Historical & Cultural Museum of the San Joaquin Valley is located at 1857 Fulton St., Fresno, CA 93721. Museum hours are Thursday and Saturday 1-6pm, Sunday 2-5pm and Monday and Friday by appointment.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

November 11, 2011

A Little Time to Pray

   A precursor to the full length documentary “A Little Time to Pray”

The African American towns of Mound Bayou, Mississippi; Nicodemus, Kansas; and Allensworth, California are highlighted in the documentary “A Little Time to Pray.” The documentary is being made by Gail Myers the founder and director of Farms to Grow, INC.; an organization that supports small African American farmers nationwide by purchasing farm supplies like seeds, hoop houses and tillers.

Farms to Grow will present the George Washington Carver award to a California farmer for excellence in agriculture on Saturday, November 12th at Preservation Park Niles Hall 668 13th Street, Oakland.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

November 04, 2011

President Thomas Stratton Delivers Postcards

Friends of Allensworth State Wide President Thomas Stratton and board member Don Hamlin delivered the oversized postcards that were signed at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, to the Governor’s office. The oversized “Closing Parks is Bad for California” postcards were delivered at the conclusion of the California State Parks Foundation’s Save Our State Parks March & Rally on Tuesday, November 1st.

The State Parks supporters met in front of the Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park (one of the state parks on the closure list) and walked approximately ½ mile to the Capitol and held a rally to protest the closure of 70 state parks.

After delivering the postcards, the park supporters packed into the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife and the Assembly Committee for Accountability & Administrative Review’s legislative hearing.

You can endorse the Save Our State Parks campaign by going to the Save Our State Parks web site.

President Stratton and Mr. Hamlin thank you for representing the Friends of Allensworth at the State Capitol.

Stephen Hill, Sr.

November 02, 2011

Civil War Sesquicentennial 2011 - 2015

President Obama signs a declaration to declare Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, as a national monument on November 1, 2011.

2011 marks the beginning of the sesquicentennial of the war that pitted brother against brother. Over the next four years in museums and university lecture halls, at conferences, and on battlefields across America the Sesquicentennial of War Between the States will be commemorated.

The role of African Americans in the Civil War is not going unnoticed. The 2011 National Black History Month theme was “African Americans and the Civil War.” This was also the focus of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History’s (ASALH) 85th Annual Black History Luncheon. (The ASALH was started by Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History.) In July the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum held its Grand Opening and is hosting a curator lecture series throughout the year. The U. S. National Library of Medicine put together a six-banner traveling exhibition titled “Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries: African Americans in Civil War Medicine” that explores the African American men and women who served as surgeons and nurses during the American Civil War. The Contraband Historical Society called their two day sesquicentennial celebration “Escape for Freedom: From Slave to Contraband.” The two day event at Fort Monroe, where Union Major General Benjamin Butler decided that escaped slaves were “contraband of war”, featured a conference, parade, and re-enactors.

It was in October of 1862 that a young enslaved Allen Allensworth threw on an old tattered Union Army jacket, put a small campfire pot on his head, covered his face in mud then marched down Main Street with the soldiers of the Forty-fourth Illinois; thus becoming “contraband of war.” Allensworth would spend his first days of freedom as a nurse with the Forty-fourth Illinois.

On April 3, 1863 Allensworth enlisted in the Navy, becoming one of over 20,000 African Americans who served in the Union Navy. Unlike the African Americans that served in special units in the Union Army, these brave men serviced side by side on the same vessels as white sailors.

On November 4, 1864 Allensworth was serving as the captain’s steward on the gunboat Tawah as it patrolled up and down the Tennessee River protecting the Union Army supply depot at Johnsonville, Tennessee when Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s artillery forces opened fire. After several hours of fighting the Tawah, Key West and Elfin gunboats were all badly damaged. Rather than letting the gunboats fall into Confederate hands the crews set the gunboats on fire.

Severe winds caused the fire to jump to supplies stored on the riverbank then to a supply depot warehouse. Confederate artillery forces began firing on the supply depot, causing the Union soldiers to take cover rather than fight the fires.

After two years of service Allensworth was honorably discharged from the Navy as a Petty Officer First Class.

On December 30, 1904 President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned Allensworth as a Major; one of the first two Army chaplains to be promoted to the rank of Major. In 1882 Congress passed a law that permitted veterans of the Civil War to be promoted one rank on retirement from the Army. As a result Chaplain Allensworth was placed on the retired list of the Army with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, at the time the highest rank obtained by an African American.

Stephen Hill, Sr.