Allensworth: Rich in History and Heritage

October 11, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The historic town of Allensworth in Tulare County has a lot to celebrate this weekend.Over the last century the town has overcome much adversity as the state's first-ever African American-run town.

The town of Allensworth was established in 1908. This weekend over 5,000 people are visiting the first ever African American built and governed town in the state for a centennial celebration.

"You were considered 3/5 of a person and they came to this town and became doctors and lawyers and teachers and they had the best general store in the county and they proved everyone wrong," said state parks director Ruth Coleman.

Director Coleman said the state parks department has spent $9-million on maintaining the history on this land.

Lt.C Allen Allensworth was one of the original founders who united other pioneering African Americans and created this town.

The two day event allows visitors to explore where the founding settlers lived, slept and ate.

Troy Walker from San Diego said: "We came here and found a city where we could prosper and make something of ourselves and prove to the country that we're just as American as anybody else."

More recently the development of dairy farms near this area posed a newer, modern day threat to the preservation of this historic site but negotiations between the land owner and state park officials protected this town. "Cause it's really of national significance and we need to preserve it in its current condition," said Coleman.

Preserved so that students like Vanessa Gatewood from Delano could appreciate her heritage. "Just looking at it now I don't know if I could have done it. Wow!" said Gatewood.

Future plans for Allensworth include a new education welcome center. The building will be built right behind the school and provide visitors with all the information to fully appreciate the history here.

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