Moving Within Freedom: Antioch Colony and the Placemaking Processes Among Rural Black Texans

Authors: Jannie Scott*, UC Santa Barbara
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Historical Geography, Rural Geography
Keywords: Black geographies, Historical Geography, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Rural South, GIS
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Napoleon D3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Freedmen’s communities became an important means by which Black southerners could imbue the landscape with new visions of freedom and equality during the Reconstruction and Jim Crow periods. An important component of the placemaking processes operating within such communities was the ability to freely move through space to access institutional places of comfort. This paper presents Antioch Colony, Texas as a case study to explore the discursive relationship between social institutions—specifically the community’s school—and mobility in sustaining Black geographies within the rural South. Focusing on the period between 1870 and 1954, this presentation applies geographic information systems to visualize archival documents and oral histories from former residents of Antioch Colony. Extending bell hooks’ theory of homeplace to social institutions, I argue that the ability to freely move through space to access these places were necessary in promoting and maintaining social cohesion and community stability within the colony. Therefore, as places of “segregated blackness”, I argue that the community and its institutions were locales of safety and opportunity that provided Black people with a sense of comfort in moving during a time in which Black mobility was often perceived as subversive.

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