The Migration West: A Safe Haven and Land of Opportunity for Black Americans

Written by Jae Jones

Making the move to the for thousands of African-Americans was the best journey many of them made. Most of the new towns in the west were organized by leaders and White entrepreneurs who had no problem offering Blacks the opportunity to create a new life for themselves. What drew blacks to the area was the promise of being able to purchase land and in some cases receive free land. Many people also so it as a way to create a life and then send for the rest of their families to join them. Black people were also seeking safety, a place they could live without being harassed by the Whites. Many people spent their savings relocating to make the journey, and once they arrived they had to take almost any kind of job just to make a living. However, despite it all, many of them had no regrets in making the move.


Towns such as Dearfield began to pop up across the west. Dearfield was the first all-black community in Colorado. It was founded by Oliver T. Jackson. The area was first settled by seven families in 1911 and consisted of small simple framed homes and a service station.

Not all the Black people who moved to the west made their living by farming or herding. Many African-Americans also went on to get jobs in law enforcement. It is estimated that about one-third of the cowboys in the West were African-Americans.


One of the country’s first photographers moved and settled in the west in Helen, Montana. James Presley Ball, was a freeman, born in Virginia but raised in Cincinnati. He later found his way to the west and set up a photography business where he began to take photos of the life being created around him. These are only a few of the amazing ways Blacks migrated to the West and made a new life for themselves and families.




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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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