African Americans on the Great Plains


African Americans on the Great Plains

An Anthology

Edited and with an introduction by Bruce A. Glasrud and Charles A. Braithwaite

404 pages


October 2009


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2009


$35.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Until recently, histories of the American West gave little evidence of the presence—let alone importance—of African Americans in the unfolding of the western frontier. There might have been a mention of Estevan, slavery, or the Dred Scott decision, but the rich and varied experience of African Americans on the Great Plains went largely unnoted. This book, the first of its kind, supplies that critical missing chapter in American history.
Originally published over the span of twenty-five years in Great Plains Quarterly, the essays collected here describe the part African Americans played in the frontier army and as homesteaders, community builders, and activists. The authors address race relations, discrimination, and violence. They tell of the struggle for civil rights and against Jim Crow, and they examine African American cultural growth and contributions as well as economic and political aspects of black life on the Great Plains. From individuals such as “Pap” Singleton, Era Bell Thompson, Aaron Douglas, and Alphonso Trent; to incidents at Fort Hays, Brownsville, and Topeka; to defining moments in government, education, and the arts—this collection offers the first comprehensive overview of the black experience on the Plains.

Author Bio

Bruce A. Glasrud is a professor emeritus of history at California State University, East Bay, and a retired dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Sul Ross State University. He is the editor of numerous works, including (with Merline Pitre) Black Women in Texas History.
Charles A. Braithwaite is the editor of Great Plains Quarterly, and a University of Nebraska–Lincoln graduate fellow in the Department of Communication Studies and director of the Global Classroom Project.
Contributors: Shawn Leigh Alexander, Richard M. Breaux, Thomas R. Buecker, Bruce A. Glasrud, Joseph V. Hickey, Tom Jack, Michael K. Johnson, James N. Leiker, Clare V. McKanna Jr., Dennis N. Mihelich, Marc Rice, R. Bruce Shepard, Audrey Thompson, Jean Van Delinder, and Ronald Walters.


"For those of us who continue to study the African American experience in the heartland, especially the northern heartland, this anthology is an important addition to the literature and, one may hope, the first of many."—Betti C. Vanepps-Taylor, South Dakota History

"This collection belongs on the shelf of every reader with an interest in African American history or the history of the Great Plains and Midwest."—Michael J. Lansing, Annals of Iowa

Table of Contents


African Americans on the Great Plains (Bruce A. Glasrud and Charles A. Braithwaite)



Black Soldiers at Fort Hays, Kansas, 1867-1869: A Study in Civilian and Military Violence (James N. Leiker)

“Pap” Singleton’s Dunlap Colony Relief Agencies and the Failure of a Black Settlement in Eastern Kansas (Joseph V. Hickey)

Vengeance without Justice, Injustice without Retribution: The Afro-American Council’s Struggle against Racial Violence (Shawn Leigh Alexander)

Prelude to Brownsville: The Twenty-fifth Infantry at Fort Niobrara, Nebraska, 1902-06 (Thomas R. Buecker)

Black Enclaves of Violence: Race and Homicide in Great Plains Cities, 1890-1920 (Clare V. McKanna, Jr.)

A Socioeconomic Portrait of Prince Hall Masonry in Nebraska, 1900-1920 (Dennis N. Mihelich)

Diplomatic Racism: Canadian Government and Black Migration from Oklahoma, 1905-1912 (R. Bruce Shepard)

“This Strange White World”: Race and Place in Era Bell Thompson's American Daughter (Michael K. Johnson)

The New Negro Arts and Letters Movement Among Black University Students in the Midwest, 1914-1940 (Richard M. Breaux)

Great Plains Pragmatist: Aaron Douglas and the Art of Social Protest (Audrey Thompson)

Frompin’ in the Great Plains: Listening and Dancing to the Jazz Orchestras of Alphonso Trent, 1925-44 (Marc Rice)

Early Civil Rights Activism in Topeka, Kansas, Prior to the 1954 Brown Case (Jean Van Delinder)

The Great Plains Sit-In Movement, 1958-1960 (Ronald Walters)

The Omaha Gospel Complex in Historical Perspective (Tom Jack)



African Americans on the Great Plains: Selected Bibliography (Bruce A. Glasrud)


Winner of the 2010 Nebraska Book Award, anthology category.

Also of Interest