African Americans who moved to California in hopes of finding freedom and full citizenship instead faced all-too-familiar racial segregation. As one transplant put it, "The only difference between Pasadena and Mississippi is the way they are spelled." From the beaches to streetcars to schools, the Golden State—in contrast to its reputation for tolerance—perfected many methods of controlling people of color.
Lynn M. Hudson deepens our understanding of the practices that African Americans in the West deployed to dismantle Jim Crow in the quest for civil rights prior to the 1960s. Faced with institutionalized racism, Black Californians used both established and improvised tactics to resist and survive the state's color line. Hudson traces white supremacy in the Golden State from statehood to the 1950s, including the California Ku Klux Klan's campaign of terror against African Americans, and rediscovers forgotten stories like the experimental all-black community of Allensworth in Tulare County.
Lynn M. Hudson is a professor of history and an affiliated faculty member of Black Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of "The Making of ‘Mammy Pleasant’: A Black Entrepreneur in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco" (University of Illinois Press, 2003), which was awarded the Barbara Penny Kanner Prize from the Western Association of Women Historians; and "West of Jim Crow: The Fight against California’s Color Line" (UIP, 2020). Her research focus is the study of race and gender and the U.S. West. In 2019 she was the E. Peter Mauk Jr./Doyce B. Nunis Fellow at The Huntington Library.
Hudson has conducted research at the CHS for over 25 years. She used archival material for both of her books and with the help of librarians and archivists unearthed some rare finds that help lift up the histories of Black Californians.