Abstract Detail


Allen (Shamsid-Deen), Maya L. [1].

A Germination of Freedom: How Blackdom, New Mexico Grew Its Roots through Dry-Farming Crops of the African Diaspora.

From post reconstruction to the early 1900s, many Black Americans dispersed out of the American South to more favorable environmental conditions. Anti-Black violence, poverty, and ambition were strong drivers of All-Black town movement, which sought to cultivate Black spaces of freedom and sovereignty. One such haven was Blackdom, New Mexico, the territory's first all-Black town. Blackdom was created with the explicit intention to support its townsfolk through agriculture, and presents a unique case study for understanding the roles agriculture and botany play in Black placemaking. In addition to oral histories, government documents, as well as primary and secondary sources, I investigated Blackdom from a biological perspective. An understanding of the biology of the plants that were integrally tied to this community’s livelihood provides a unique insight. It frames the day to day life that is sometimes absent from oral and written records. It provides a framework for the consequential biological cascades in the absence of rain, the evolutionary history that shaped the subsistence of the food, and the intimate details of the land. Through the integration of multiple approaches and disciplines, I provide a novel interpretation of the agricultural narrative of Blackdom. Previous work has classified Blackdom as a failed social experiment. However despite dismal precipitation levels, Blackdom residents were able to cultivate several crops of particular significance to the African diaspora. They formed their society using community orchards and gardens, which are resilience methodologies still seen today. As such, Blackdom serves as an intimate tale of resilience as future climate models indicate that dryland ecosystems will expand as our climate warms, becomes more arid, and climate variability increases.

1 - University Of New Mexico, UNM Biology, Castetter Hall 1480 MSC03-2020, 219 Yale Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87131, United States

Community Gardens.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: ETH1009
Abstract ID:447
Candidate for Awards:None

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