January 26, 2015

Alice C. Royal

January 15, 1923 - December 9, 2014

Riley and Sadie went to Sadie's parents’ retirement home when it came time for the birth of their little girl. It was here in the middle bedroom of this small home built by her grandfather and his neighbor that Alice C. Royal came into the world on January 15, 1923.  Her grandparents James and Alice Hackett were one of the first families to move to Allensworth; California's first town built, financed, and governed by African Americans.

In her 2008 book, Allensworth, The Freedom Colony Ms Royal talks about living in Allensworth when she was seven and eight years old.
“I was a second and third grader in the Allensworth School in the early 1930s. I remember the big dictionary and the potbellied stove, playing hopscotch and jump rope with the other girls. Aunt Grace always went early to ring the school bell. Older boys like my brother Edward would bring wood for the potbellied stove. Everyone had duties: some would erase blackboards, some would fill inkwells, somebody else would do something with the blotters. Everyone was involved in the process.”        
“At nighttime, Aunt Grace would take us by the hand and we’d walk from the Hackett home to other parts of Allensworth. Everyone knew everyone, and respected Aunt Grace, the teacher.  We’d learn about celestial bodies – look up, you’d see a star or maybe a shooting star or a half-moon. I remember the sights and sounds of animals early in the morning.”
She has always been an advocate of Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park. Before there was a park she served on the Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park Advisory Committee; the group that led the charge to establish the park.   From its inception she has supported the Friends of Allensworth. She waged a successful campaign to include the story of Allensworth in California’s fourth grade social studies texts.  She was ever present at special events at the park. Always with a line of visitors waiting to have a few minutes to ask her questions or have their picture taken with her. In the words of George PIlling she was the benevolent queen of the park.

On December 9, 2014, Ms. Alice C. Royal crossed over to that land where there is no more crying and no more pain; a land where the streets are paved in gold.  The family held a private graveside service at the Hanford District cemetery on December 18, 2014.

1 comment:

Waddell said...

I finally made it to Allensworth about 10 years ago on Easter Sunday, and my wife and I spent several hours looking at the exhibits and buildings and just taking it all in.

We were getting ready to leave when an older lady in a compact car surprised us both from behind by saying: "Happy Easter!" I looked to see who it was and hey, it was that lady in the videotape who had grown up there! She seemed genuinely happy that a number of people had come out to her childhood home that day to learn about the unique bit of California history that she was a part of.

I'm sorry but not surprised that she's passed on, given her age. However, I'm grateful that we had a chance, however brief, to meet such an exceptional person.

Bill DeJager