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African Americans in Tucson and the Southwest

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1 African Americans in Tucson and the Southwest

2 Many of the African Americans who came to this region were leaving the southern states looking for new opportunities to establish roots, raise families, and escape racial persecution. By 1900, records show that 86 persons lived in Tucson who identified themselves as being of African descent.

3 Others came to the area as soldiers stationed at Ft. Apache or Ft
Others came to the area as soldiers stationed at Ft. Apache or Ft. Huachuca.

4 The African American experience has been very vital to the development of Tucson, Arizona. 

5 In 1900, when Arizona was still a territory, Mt
In 1900, when Arizona was still a territory, Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church was founded. The location was built in Mt. Calvary is the oldest African American church in Arizona.

6 On Monday, September 18, 1913, classes began at Dunbar School, Tucson's first school for children of African descent. Dunbar School was established as a result of a legislative mandate segregating African Americans. In an interview, a former Dunbar student, Harry Warrior said: "We lived in integrated communities; our neighbors and friends were of different persuasions, but when we went to school our world was totally Black.”

7 The "colored school" was relocated in 1917 and the name was changed to Dunbar. The school was named after Paul Laurence Dunbar. It was located at 300 W. 2nd St. In 1951, the school was integrated, modernized, and renamed John A. Spring.

8 In 1940, Morgan Maxwell Sr. was named principal of Dunbar Elementary and Junior High School. Mr. Maxwell Sr. established standards of academic achievement for all students.

9 Dunbar students during the days of segregation.
This group of marching majorettes and drum and bugle corps appear in the rodeo parade in Tucson, Arizona.

10 Leaders who graduates of Dunbar School
Mr. Cressworth Lander, Businessman and community leader, CEO Dunbar Coalition Dr. Anna Jolivet, Retired TUSD Educator and was first African American Assistant Superintendent in TUSD Mr. Morgan Maxwell, Jr., Businessman and first to integrate the eating facilities at the University of Arizona

11 Fred Snowden served as the first African American head basketball coach at the NCAA Division I level when the University of Arizona hired him as the head basketball coach in 1972.

12 Dr. Charles “Chuck” Ford, was the first and only African American elected to the Tucson City Council and served as Vice Mayor. He retired from TUSD as an elementary principal.

13 Purported to be the oldest home in Tucson belonging to an African American (circa 1933). 
Deed restrictions and the actions of neighborhood associations, realtors, and individuals kept African Americans from owning or renting property in many areas of Tucson well into the 1960's. As a result, African Americans established their own neighborhoods. One of the earliest was in the vicinity of "A" Mountain. An early resident of the neighborhood, Clarence Francis, described it in a 1991 oral history.


15 Bass Reeves Bass Reeves was one of the first African Americans to receive a commission as a Deputy U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi River

16 Henry Flipper, the first black graduate of West Point lived in Southern Arizona during the late 1890’s.



19 Credits and Additional Resources
Much of this information was taken from: In the Steps of Esteban – Additional Resources:

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