News Onyx remembers New Mexico’s first thriving Black community, Blackdom, formally established in the early 1900s.
According to the National Park Service, Blackdom was founded in 1901 and incorporated by thirteen African Americans two years later in 1903. Located 15 miles south of Roswell, it reportedly became the most important Black homesteader colony in New Mexico.
The group of trailblazing African Americans who founded Blackdom formed the Blackdom Townsite Company with $10,000 in combined assets and named homesteader Francis “Frank” Marion Boyer as their president. Frank was a Morehouse College and Fisk University graduate who learned about homesteading during his undergraduate career. He also became a teacher in Georgia post-graduation.
Boyer’s father, a former Buffalo Soldier during the Mexican-American war, encouraged him to move west after the Klu Klux Klan threatened his life. Following the relocation, he initiated the creation of the Blackdom Townsite Company with the mission of creating a self-sustaining Black community that wouldn’t have to deal with racism in the south. By 1908, Blackdom had a population of 300 people, several small businesses and schools, a post office, a church, and a local newspaper. Boyer, his college-educated wife Ella Louise McGruder, and their four children all resided there and lived a good life.
Education was a huge deal in the community, as Boyer and McGruder enforced education in the town and made sure that its children learned Black history in the local school as a form of empowerment.
Over time, African American families from other states, including Texas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, Ohio, reportedly migrated to Blackdom after hearing great things about the flourishing community.
Unfortunately, Blackdom died out by the 1920s due to harvest failure and other disasters, as the town didn’t survive the Great Depression. However, it hasn’t been forgotten.
In January, the Albuquerque Museum launched a high-tech mobile exhibit about the former Black community called “Facing the Rising Sun: The Journey of African American Homesteaders in New Mexico, Vision, Belief, and Sovereign Ownership.”
“This exhibit shares a critical chapter in that history, a history of perseverance, ingenuity, and deep roots in New Mexico,” Albuquerque’s Mayor Tim Keller said.