Scripps Alumna Returns to Share Her Research on the All-Black California Town

Susan Anderson, Scripps class of ’75, returns to Scripps College in March as the 2006 Lois Langland Alumna-in-Residence (LLAiR). The LLAiR program is a unique opportunity for an alumna to share her professional and life experiences with the College community in a weeklong program. This spring, Susan Anderson, author, media consultant, and community activist, will explore the history and significance of Allensworth, a historic California town that was founded, financed, and governed by African Americans. Anderson will lecture at the Scripps College Tuesday Noon Academy Tuesday, March 28, 12 p.m. in the Hampton Room, Malott Commons. Bring a lunch or purchase one at the Malott dinning hall. The lecture is free and open to the public. Please contact Scripps College Alumnae Relations for more information at (909) 621-8054.

The small farming community, situated approximately 20 miles north of Bakersfield, was founded in 1908 by Colonel Allen Allensworth and associates dedicated to improving the economic and social status of African Americans. The same year an article in the Tulare Register described the community as “the only enterprise of its kind in the United States.” The town featured the first black school district, voting precinct, judicial district, law enforcement officers, and justice of the peace in California. Uncontrollable circumstances including a drop in the area’s water table and the Great Depression challenged Allensworth. Despite hardships, the town managed to survive these years of declining population and public services. In 1976, the governor and legislature approved plans to develop the site as a State Historic Park.

Susan Anderson has published several scholarly articles on race relations and political and economic involvement including “Rivers of Water in a Dry Place: Early Black Participation in California Politics,” in Racial and Ethnic Politics in California and “City of Heaven: Black Enchantment and Despair in Los Angeles,” in The City: Los Angeles and Urban Theory at the End of the Twentieth Century. She is a contributor to the Los Angeles Times Sunday Current and was commissioned by California Assembly member Mark Ridley-Thomas to write a three-part report, ” African American Political Strength: Background and Implications.” Anderson is the editorial services manager for The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation. The LLAiR program honors Lois Langland, Scripps professor of psychology emerita, whose devotion to encouraging creativity and individuality reflects a central value of the College. “We are delighted to be working with Ms. Anderson on creative forums and opportunities to learn the untold story of Allensworth,” states LLAiR Committee Chair, Laura Cogburn ’85. 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 Niño a Skid Row nonprofit family service agency.