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Feb 22nd
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Home National & State Parks Other NPs Homestead Monument Looks at African American Experience in the West

Homestead Monument Looks at African American Experience in the West

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In honor of Black History Month, Homestead National Monument of America is offering two special programs in February about the African American experience in Western expansion.

On Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012 at 1 p.m., Historian Blake Bell will offer a special program about the African American Exodus out of the post-Reconstruction South. Bell will cover this short, but important era in American History.

heritagecenterThen on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012 at 1 p.m., author and University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor Dr. Charles Braithwaite will detail the historic role African Americans played in shaping the Great Plains.

Both events will be held at the Monument's Education Center. The Monument is located about four miles west of Beatrice, Nebraska.

According to Bell, following the Civil War the United States entered the period known as Reconstruction; an attempt by the federal government to mend the fractured nation.

When Reconstruction ended in 1877, states in the South passed oppressive laws known as Black Codes to suppress the freedoms of African Americans.

blakebellThousands of African Americans chose to leave the South in search of economic and social independence. Many came west to claim land under the Homestead Act; they became known as the Exodusters.

Bell will discuss the Exodusters' arduous journey. He'll cover the myth, lies, hardship, and perseverance that marked this historic era of American History. Bell is the historian for Homestead National Monument of America.

Then on the following Sunday, Braithwaite will discuss the rich and varied experiences of African Americans on the frontier.

cbraithwaite2bUntil recently, histories largely ignored or omitted African Americans from the narrative of the West and the expansion of the United States. Braithwaite will speak to those omissions.

Braithwaite is the editor of the Great Plains Quarterly and a Fellow at the Center for Great Plains Studies, Fellow in the Department of Anthropology and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition, Dr. Braithwaite edited the 2009 book African Americans on the Great Plains.

Homestead National Monument of America has an exciting schedule of events planned for 2012, the 150th Anniversary of the Homestead Act of 1862.

Homestead National Monument of America is a unit of the National Park Service located four miles west of Beatrice, Nebraska. Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free of charge.

For additional information, call (402) 223-3514 or visit
www.nps.gov/home/index.htm .

National & State Parks