In the mountains of Northern California, in Shasta and Siskiyou Counties, one of the largest gold mining events of the 19th century occurred. Within a few years of the first discovery of gold, miners had arrived from all corners of the globe. While contemporary historical accounts depict this rush as a largely indistinguishable mass of opportunists, careful study reveals motivations were far from singular. Among those arriving in the west were a significant number of African Americans. In fact by 1852 over 2,000 men of African American descent were in the California gold fields. However, today little is ever mentioned about the free and enslaved black men who lived in the northern California wilderness by pick and shovel.
Through the lens of contemporary storytelling, theater, photography, music and video we will reconstruct the lives of these African Americans. Through collaboration with history professionals and local artists we will work with African American communities in Redding and Siskiyou County to tell the story of migration and of the experience working in often remote mines. This project will finally provide opportunities for members of the African American community to assert “their” story. 1
This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.
Come to our first presentation,
Save the Date, April 6th Shasta College Theater 7pm, Redding, California
Shasta Historical Society
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Our first presentation April 6th 2019
After a year of preparation which consisted of bi monthly meetings where we scoured over
historical texts, discussed them and developed our particular stories we were ready to bring this info to the public. The historical vignettes by Victor Martin, Donald Kelly, Nadine Miller, Tinasha LaRaye, Darryll Alvey, Eddie MvAllister and Abu Baker Salahudin were all based on historical information found in a few available texts. We created their characters by blending events from diaries and histories so we could provide the audience with a appreciation of what African Americans faced politically and culturally in the far Northern Territory of the Siskiyous.
Our evening also included a presentation by Rick Moss former director and head curator from the Oakland African American Museum and Library. And another by Sylvia Roberts, historian and author of “Mining for Freedom.” Rick and Sylvia laid out the situation in the United States during the 1850’s and explained who from the African American Community were coming to California and under what conditions.
Some shots of our performers from our debut performance at Shasta College
Victor Martin who played the first saxophone in the California Gold Rush
Tinasha LaRaye and Nadine Miller encounter the muse of Phoebe Colburn
Donald Kelly stars as “Henry” as an African American who came to
California to find gold and change his future.
Darryll Alvey, Preacher who fell on bad luck in California only to be rescued
by a group of Black Miners.
Abu Bakr Salahudin plays the first Muslim Gold Mine owner in the gold rush
Our new fiscal sponsor
Shasta County Arts Council
On June 23rd our group of actors and producers led by Archeologist Pat Brunmeier
made a journey up to Negro Boy Mine outside Yreka,Ca. In the photon have stopped
at Louie Road on I-5 to look East at another trail which was named Negro Gulch.
It went over the mountains to the west and the mines of the Callahan area, Scott River and Salmon River.
Outside the Hawkinsville Portuguese Church, one of the mining centers on our way to the Klamath River.