Allensworth, a town founded by Black settlers, secures new funding and a better future

By Denise Kadara

Sept. 26, 2022

Many of us living in the Central Valley have long known and experienced the effects of discrimination and divestment. Allensworth, California’s first all-Black town established in 1908, has not been an exception. Once a thriving farm community inspired by the dream of self-determination, Allensworth has grappled with arsenic contamination in our drinking water, expansive food deserts and limited wastewater infrastructure.

My mother, Nettie Morrison, dedicated her life to Allensworth’s revitalization. I followed in her footsteps, immersing myself in the fight for environmental justice. Over the decades, I’ve learned progress is not always linear. But I’m hopeful we’ve now reached an inflection point, thanks to the passionate advocacy of community members and legislative leadership in our state.

Recognizing Allensworth’s contribution to American history and our state’s challenging environmental and economic conditions, Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California Legislative Black Caucus, and the state Legislature recently made a historic $40 million investment in Allensworth for programs in the Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park and the adjoining “living” community, including the expansion of the TAC Teaching and Innovation Farm.

A tribute to our kinship with farming, the TAC Farm uses organic agriculture and related products to revitalize the economically depressed community around Allensworth, while educating residents and visitors about healthy food choices. State funding will help us expand hands-on training in organic cultivation methods and allow for an expanded groundwater arsenic remediation process — now more important due to the drought. TAC Farm will also train youth, with the hope that future generations can learn and apply the science required to help advance environmental justice.

Read more at the Fresno Bee.

Denise Kadara is the president of the Allensworth Progressive Association (APA) and the first African American member of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.