Black Towns, Black Futures
The Enduring Allure of a Black Place in the American West
Some know Oklahoma's Black towns as historic communities that thrived during the Jim Crow era—this is only part of the story. In this book, Karla Slocum shows that the appeal of these towns is more than their past. Drawing on interviews and observations of town life spanning several years, Slocum reveals that people from diverse backgrounds are still attracted to the communities because of the towns' remarkable history as well as their racial identity and rurality. But that attraction cuts both ways. Tourists visit to see living examples of Black success in America, while informal predatory lenders flock to exploit the rural Black economies. In Black towns, there are developers, return migrants, rodeo spectators, and gentrifiers, too. Giving us a complex window into Black town and rural life, Slocum ultimately makes the case that these communities are places for affirming, building, and dreaming of Black community success even as they contend with the sometimes marginality of Black and rural America.