Allensworth State Park Festival July 11: Celebrating and elevating the pioneering spirit of African American women

by Rev. Clarence Eziokwu Washington

Allensworth is the first town in California founded by an ex-slave and is the only Black historical park in California.

Visitors to Allensworth are inspired not only by this sterling example of Black self-determination but by the founder, Col. Allen Allensworth. Born a slave in 1842 and “sold down the river” at age 12 when he was discovered learning to read and write, he founded Allensworth in 1908, and it thrived until the Depression. It was declared a state historical park in 1976.

The Allensworth Volunteer Community Association, the Friends of Allensworth and the We Can Foundation invite you to attend our Women’s Celebration. It will be held on Saturday, July 11, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Black historical township and park of Allensworth in Delano, California.

Hosted by Dr. Rosie Millingan and keynoted by Dr. Umar Johnson, this fun filled event will feature entertainment, lectures, park tours and various exhibits. We will also honor the pioneering spirits of many African American women, who must overcome a history of sexually and racially codified injustice and modern day de facto discrimination.

An excellent example of African American women’s success in coming out from under America’s shadow of discrimination is Jospehine Leavell Allensworth. She was the wife of Col. Allen Allensworth and was instrumental in assisting him in the founding of the historically Black town of Allensworth in Tulare County, California.

Allensworth’s Mary Dickinson Memorial Library was founded and stocked by Col. Allensworth’s wife, Josephine, who named it for her mother.
Allensworth’s Mary Dickinson Memorial Library was founded and stocked by Col. Allensworth’s wife, Josephine, who named it for her mother.
Col. Allen Allensworth, 1908
Col. Allen Allensworth, 1908

In addition to being a wonderful wife and an accomplished musician, Josephine Allensworth was also very active in her community. She was one of the founding members of the Women’s Improvement League and also served as the president of the Allensworth School Board.

Josephine Allensworth donated the property and books to begin Allensworth’s own public library, the Mary Dickinson Memorial Library, which was named for her mother. In addition to the books that the Allensworths donated, Josephine Allensworth worked with the Tulare Free Library to furnish books for the library.

History teaches that African-American women have been breaking barriers around the world and changing the way the world is viewed and functions since humans began to walk the Earth – and have done it with courage, perseverance and intelligent generosity. Women have had to walk the extra mile and fight courageous battles to awaken the world from injustice and to bring it up to a place where it understands that change is needed.

Their collective and historical efforts have positioned the world in a better place and provided us all and themselves with a greater level of acceptance and recognition as vital citizens who have contributed to the world. We want to show our appreciation for them and their contributions to American and world history.

Rev. Mutima Imani of the East Bay Church of Religious Science in Oakland leads a ceremony inside First Baptist Church in Allensworth for other visitors. Entering Allensworth buildings enables Black people to commune with this great landmark of California Black History.
Rev. Mutima Imani of the East Bay Church of Religious Science in Oakland leads a ceremony inside First Baptist Church in Allensworth for other visitors. Entering Allensworth buildings enables Black people to commune with this great landmark of California Black History.

This event will also serve an even larger purpose: It is a vehicle through which we can enjoy the rhythms from Africa to America and the fruits of success of our ancestors. This music festival will be a unique Diaspora experience that will educate and elevate the Black conscience.

Come and enjoy rhythms from Mali to Mississippi as we recognize over 400 years of struggle, success and legacy in this unique Black experience.

Tickets are $25 and bus fare to the event, $30. The fee for arts and crafts vendors is $125 and for food vendors is $200. Buy tickets HERE or call the WE CAN Foundation at 323-293-9845.

For more information and to participate, contact the We Can Foundation, 4329 Degnan Ave., Los Angeles CA 90008. Event coordinator Clarence Eziokwu Washington can be reached at 323-293-9845 or rev.c.e.washington@gmail.com. Regarding vending and other business issues, contact Bambou Ada Diagne, 424-221-0196 or adrienne.bambou@intlventuresandtrade.com.

This is a fundraising program that is intended to bring people of all ages together from communities throughout California for entertainment, education, relaxation and kinship. Net proceeds will benefit the WE CAN Read Book Club program, Essay Competition Series, Scholarship Program and the WE CAN TV Channel.

In addition, the fair will expose visitors to the cultural legacy of the host venue, Allensworth State Historical Park. It is our hope that this will become an annual event.

Rev. Clarence Eziokwu Washington is vice president of the WE CAN Foundation. Visit www.colonel-allensworth.net.

https://youtu.be/EHkriCL_2ks