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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Central Valley | Racial Justice
From Beacon Hill to Negro Hill ~ US Colored Troops ~ US Civil War
This 2014 Memorial Day ~ Negro Hill Burial Ground, we join the global community and bring light to our hidden past and stolen legacy, US Colored Troops from California in the US Civil War. From Beacon Hill, Massachusetts to Charleston, South Carolina to Negro Hill, California an amazing journey documents today's freedom, paid for by our US Colored Troops during the US Civil War.
Negro Hills, CA is one of the extraordinary early Black agricultural communities and maintains a golden historical legacy of the free migration of American citizens of African ancestry.
In 1849 three enterprising men from the New England seaboard named Vosey, Long and French opened a store and boarding house called the Civil Usage House. Business was good. Gold Rush “fever” swept across the world like wildfire and brought Irish, Spanish, Portuguese, Mormon, Chinese and even more Black pioneers yearning for a greater measure of freedom.
Early success was assured and obtained throughout Black Sacramento regional communities of Negro Village, Negro Bar, and Negro Hill, California.
A strong case can be made that during (1840-1865) the people of African ancestry in the Sacramento River Basin obtained a measure of freedom that remains unsurpassed during the California Gold Rush era.
Imagine, Charles Crocker, brother of Edwin Crocker and Dewitt Stanford, brother of Leland Stanford, joined the Negro Hill business community competing directly with the Negro established trade and commerce, this is a very strong indicator of the business opportunity that was established in these communities.
In 1853, Negro Hill population exceeded 2000 and could boast of a multiethnic community unmatched outside the Port of San Francisco. Mormon Island / Negro Hill was the central hub of a regional community that included Salmon Falls, Massachusetts Flat, Chile Hill, and many mining camps along the American River.
In 1854, Rev. Newton Miller noted that in his racially mixed Methodist Church at Negro Hills, “Negroes constitute nearly all the church members and are a majority of the congregation.” Later in 1854, portions of the deeply religious community of Negro Hill had deteriorated into a Wild West saloon and place of ill repute.
The California State Legislature passed laws prohibiting Blacks from testifying in court, homesteading land, voting and public education. These environmental hazards helped to destroy the harmonious beginnings of Negro Hill, CA.
A small group of drunken, broke and destitute white citizens near Negro Hill began to terrorize the Negro business community. Theft, fights and lynching were effectively encouraged because of the legal prohibition of equal access to the law in early California State History.
In 1856, Mormon Island burned down and the many residents crossed Shaw Bridge and moved into the community of Negro Hill at the same time the California Colored Convention Movement began to address racial disenfranchisement, specific to ‘colored’ citizens in the State of California.
1857 U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney proclaimed in the Dred Scott decision, “Black folk have no rights that white folk are bound to respect.” This landmark decision of March 6, 1857 changed America forever and helped facilitate a migration by many out of the region.
Today, California State Historical Landmark No. 570 of Negro Hill is missing for nearly a decade. A small portion Negro Hills Cemetery was relocated during the 1954 construction of Folsom Dam to provide flood relief to the lower Sacramento River Basin; however, government officials sought fit to rename Negro Hill, “Nigger Hill” on 36 “unknown” grave markers reflective of the battle for basic Human Rights for people of African ancestry in the Sacramento region.
During the plans to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Juneteenth and the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, leading California and regional government officials, civic organizations, and student activists will continue to restore proper dignity and respect to our early Black Pioneers.
This 2014 Memorial Day ~ Negro Hill Burial Ground, we join the global community and bring light to our hidden past, a stolen legacy. From Beacon Hill, Massachusetts to Charleston, South Carolina to Negro Hill, California the amazing journey to our freedom was paid for by our US Colored Troops during the US Civil War.
Today, we restore an unbroken spiritual connection with tangible memorials and monuments that serve to remind future generations that we are linked through our past, present and future contributions to the forward flow of humanity.
The "unknown" remains buried not far from the California State Capitol bear tangible witness to that history and provide a salient marker to a vast "unknownstolen legacy" of our journey towards freedom for people of African ancestry in California.