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C2O RHYTHM AND ARTS PRESENTS

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In July 2000, I decided to take a long term sabbatical from my trip technology and training career to nurture the silent, inner artist who had been sitting on my spirit for many, many, many years…waiting for me to give her a voice.

So, I packed up my East coast life into my black Chevy Cavalier and set off cross country, California-bound. On August 1st, 2000, I arrived in the Bay Area. Not long after that I attended a tap class in San Francisco. That day, my silent, inner artist ceased waiting on me. She had not only found her voice, but the rhythm to go with it. That rhythm tap class would be the catalyst to what is now a passionate and committed 20-year relationship with this uniquely African-American art form.

Y’all, I love me some rhythm tap! Now, two decades later, I’m taking another sabbatical. Yes, me and my inner artist are hitting the road again. On this trip however, the lady artist promises to be anything but silent. 

Tap was a language of resistance and freedom for my African ancestors. So to honor them and this powerful dance form, I’ll be dropping my board and tapping across America, visiting places and spaces in this country where Africans fought, farmed, founded, retreated, restored, developed, defended and died.

July 2021, follow along with C2O Rhythm and Art’s "The Talkback Tour". Celebrating 20 years of rhythm tap dance in honor of the African-Americans for whom tap was not a dance, but a revolution ✨🔮✊🏿

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Allensworth

ALLENSWORTH, CALIFORNIA

Allensworth Township was founded by Allen Allensworth—first African American lieutenant colonel in the Army, chaplain, and ordained minister—in 1908 as a sovereign and self-sufficient Black American utopia near Bakersfield, California. 

Although the township did not thrive for long, it is a place that inspirits many as an example of an earnest effort in self-determination for Black people.

The area is now known as Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park. 

Hopeville

HOPEVILLE, ARIZONA

Allenville, Arizona was established in 1944 when Fred Norton purchased a small piece of land from the county, subdivided it, and sold it to Black people.

His first sale was to John Allen, who would become the community’s namesake.

Although Black people were not allowed to live in the nearby town of Buckeye, Arizona at the time, Allenville provided an opportunity for many to purchase homes of their own.

The community lived in harmony from 1944 until 1978 when a flood forced all of the inhabitants to abandon the town for good.

With the arrival of Allenville’s final flood in 1978, it had been designated as a disaster area and the townspeople were relocated 8 miles north to Hopeville, Arizona, where this video was filmed.

Today, Hopeville remains a small, close-knit community.

Featured Dancer: @cata_villa ✨

Dearfield

DEARFIELD, COLORADO

Dearfield, Colorado was officially found in 1910 by Oliver Toussaint Jackson, an entrepreneur from Ohio who desired to create an agricultural settlement for African-Americans. 

The land was far from ideal, though due to an unusual wet season during the time of its founding, the town’s in-demand crops of corn, barley, and potatoes thrived, bringing money into the settlement. 

Even with plentiful rainfall and assistance from the Department of Agriculture, homesteading was difficult work and many of the town’s men worked in Denver or for neighboring farmers to supplement their income..

With many of the men working outside of Dearfield, much of the farming and operational labor within the town was done by the town’s women.

Jackson spent a significant amount of time away from Dearfield so his wife, Minerva, took on his responsibilities and became known as the town’s unofficial mayor. 

At its peak, Dearfield boasted a town population of about 700 and enjoyed over a decade of success. In 1921, the town was appraised at $1,075,000. 

However, the ending of World War I and significantly reduced profitability of the crops alongside continued rainy seasons without proper irrigation systems in place led to the town’s end. 

Dearfield’s families soon began leaving the town in search of other opportunities and by 1940, only 12 people remained. 

Jackson tried to rebuild Dearfield several time but was never successful. The site was neglected for many years until the Black American West Museum took interest in it. 

Dearfield was eventually listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995 and the museum began a restoration project of the town’s remaining buildings in 1998. 

Tulsa

TULSA, OKLAHOMA

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After World War I, 

Tulsa, Oklahoma was recognized nation-wide for the Greenwood District, its affluent African American community. Together with the residential area and bustling business district, the area became known as "Black Wall Street." 

However, in June 1921, the area was nearly destroyed after a series of events following the arrest of a young Black man named Dick Rowland. Given the social and racial climate of the time, Black Tulsans believed that Rowland would be lynched after his arrest. 

Hostile groups of white men began to gather in the Greenwood area. The groups were provided with arms and ammunition from public officials, entering the district leaving looted, damaged, or completely destroyed property in their wake. While the precise death toll has never been determined, it's estimated that between 100 and 300 people were murdered during the massacre. 

Although they fought bravely in defense of their homes, businesses, and community, the Black Tulsans were outnumbered by the hostile, white intruders and the area fell to its demise. Neither local nor federal governments arrived in the district to restore order and to this day, none of the criminal acts have ever been prosecuted. 

Restorative efforts to the district were taken up by the victims of the massacre themselves with little relief from outside organizations. One organization that did provide significant aid was the American Red Cross.

 

To read more about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, visit this link.

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