Allensworth proclaimed beacon of Black history

Before the month came to a close, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors recognized February as Black History Month by presenting a proclamation to Denise and Kayode Kadara, who were there to represent the community of Allensworth.(Karis Caddell)

Tulare County Board of Supervisors ends February by acknowledging Allensworth’s contributions to black history in the Central Valley

VISALIA – Allensworth’s growth and contributions of the past, present and future were recognized by the Tulare County Board of Supervisors as a way to honor Black History Month.

On Feb. 27, the Board of Supervisors wrapped up Black History Month by presenting a proclamation to Denise and Kayode Kadara, who were there to represent the town of Allensworth. According to Supervisor Pete Vander Poel, who presented the proclamation, Allensworth was the very first community west of the Mississippi that was founded by, resided in and governed by African Americans.

“It is my honor to present this proclamation recognizing February 2024 as Black History Month here in Tulare County,” Vander Poel said. “They (the Kadara’s) are community leaders in the community of Allensworth, which we are incredibly fortunate to have here in Tulare County, a very historically significant community.”

After receiving the proclamation, Denise Kadara shared some words about the significance and history of Allensworth.

“We are indeed honored to be here to receive this recognition on behalf of the community of Allensworth,” Denise said. “It was a community where all African Americans could live and be educated, have their own freedom and their own town.”

According to Denise, Allensworth was started in 1908 and operated as a successful township for at least 10 years. In the late 1960s, the town of Allensworth was about to be destroyed until Ed Pope, who was once a resident of Allensworth, made efforts to have the community turned into a historic park due to the contributions it had made to California.

“A lot of work has gone into what we’re doing, which is why I believe the county board of supervisors has knowledge of us today,” Denise said. “It’s a small community but we have passion, we’re committed to what we want to do.”

She explained that around 2010 her family decided to make efforts to build the economy in Allensworth. This prompted Denise and her husband to work on an organic farming project and start regenerative agriculture practices there.

As a matter of fact, Denise’s mother, Nettie Morrison, also received the same proclamation for her “30 years of advocacy and dedicated leadership to the community in Allensworth” back in 2011, according to the Allensworth Progressive Association Website.

Morrison was the founder of the Friends of Allensworth, and was responsible for coordinating and organizing hundreds of community and state park events that celebrated both the history and the future of Allensworth.

“What my mom did there was fought to bring about recognition for Allensworth,” Denise said. “It’s not just the experience of the people that are there, but what they mean to this particular region.”

According to Denise, Allensworth also created a community plan that prioritized the needs of the residents. This plan was later submitted to the state and eventually led towards the town receiving $40 million for the community of Allensworth.

That money has since been put towards the regenerative farming practices, a community resilience center and improvements on the state historic park, which will focus on the cultural impacts of the Indigenous, Filipino, Latino and Black populations in the area.

“(It will tell) the stories of the histories of all the cultures there, so when people come into the park, they will have that experience,” Denise said.

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