Author, media consultant, and community activist Susan Anderson ’74 returns to her alma mater in March to share her research about Allensworth, a California town settled and managed in the early 20th century exclusively by African-Americans. As the 2006 Louis Langland Alumna-in-Residence (LLAiR), Anderson will discuss the historical significance of the town.
In 1908, Colonel Allen Allensworth and associates founded a small farming community approximately 20 miles north of Bakersfield. The same year, an article in the Tulane Register described the town of Allensworth as “the only enterprise of its kind in the United States.” Allensworth had the first all-black school district, voting precinct, law enforcement offices, judicial districts, and justice of peace in California. Uncontrollable circumstances, including a drop in the area’s water table and the Great Depression, challenged the community. Despite hardships, the town survived these difficult years of declining population and public services. In 1976, Allensworth become a State Historic Park.
Susan Anderson has published several articles on race relations and economic and political involvement. “Rivers of Water in a Dry Place: Early Black Participation in California Politics,” appears in Racial and Ethnic Politics in California; “City of Heaven: Black Enchantment and Despair in Los Angeles,” was published in The City: Los Angeles and Urban Theory at the End of the Twentieth Century. Currently, Anderson is a contributor to the Los Angeles Times Sunday Current and was commissioned by California Assembly member Mark Ridley-Thomas to write a report, “African American Political Strength: Background and Implications.” In addition, Anderson is the editorial services manager for The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation.
Laura Cogburn ’85, the LLAiR committee chair commented, “We are delighted to be working with Ms. Anderson on creative forums and opportunities to learn the untold story of Allensworth.”
Anderson will be the guest speaker at the Tuesday Noon Academy lecture series on Tuesday, March 28, 12 p.m. Her lecture, “Next Stop, Allensworth: How Black Politics Shaped California Democracy,” will be held in the Hampton Room, Malott Commons. For more information about this event contact the Malott Commons office at (909) 607-9372.
The LLAiR program honors Lois Langland, professor of psychology emerita, whose devotion to encouraging creativity and individuality reflects a central value of the College. Previous LLAiR recipients include: Kathleen Brogan Schwarz M.D. ’64, professor of pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University; and Tanya Cherry Tull ’64, humanitarian and founder of Para los NiÃ±os a Skid Row nonprofit family service agency.
For more information about this year’s program, or if you are interested in applying to become a future LLAiR, please contact Scripps College Alumnae Relations at (909) 621-8054.