African Americans in the West
by Douglas Flamming
June 2009, 353pp, 6x9
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-59884-002-5
$72, £54, 60€, A103
eBook Available: 978-1-59884-003-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

From slaves fleeing bondage in the western territories to African American cowboys and Buffalo Soldiers riding the range during the post-Civil War era to the mass migrations to western cities during World War II, African Americans played an important role in the development of the Western U.S. But did the West really deliver a life of greater freedom and opportunity?

Based on the latest research, this work provides a new look at the lives of African Americans in the Western United States, from the colonial era to the present.

From colonial times to the present, this volume captures the experiences of the westward migration of African Americans. Based on the latest research, it offers a fresh look at the many ways African Americans influenced—and were influenced by—the development of the U.S. frontier.

African Americans in the West covers the rise of the slave trade to its expansion into what was at the time the westernmost United States; from the post–Civil War migrations, including the Exodusters who fled the South for Kansas in 1879 to the mid–20th century civil rights movement, which saw many critical events take place in the West—from the organization of the Black Panthers in Oakland to the tragic Watts riots in Los Angeles.


  • A rich collection of photographs, many never before published
  • A completely up-to-date bibliography highlighting significant resources for further study on African Americans in the West
Douglas Flamming is professor of history at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA. He is the author of two award-winning books: Creating the Modern South: Millhands and Managers in Dalton, Georgia, 1884-1984 and Bound for Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America.


"An interpretative rather than an encyclopedic reference, Flamming’s (Bound for Freedom) historical guide offers an energetic narrative illuminating the lives of pioneering African Americans, from Colonial-era Afro-Spaniards to African Americans who moved West following the two modern-era Great Migrations. Maps detailing geographical delineations, general migration patterns, and regional ethnic concentrations open the book. The ten subsequent chronologically organized chapters trace the movement of African Americans from Revolutionary-era slavery to freedom through the social upheavals of the 1960s, the nationalist movements of the 1970s, and issues of the contemporary period. A vital companion to William Loren Katz’s pictorial history, The Black West."—Library Journal, September 15, 2009

"Part of the outstanding ABC-CLIO 'Cultures in the American West' series, African Americans in the West has as its primary focus an impressive history of African American involvement with western development from 1815 to the present day. . . . African Americans in the West is a seminal contribution to academic and community library African American Studies and American History reference collections, and commended to the attention of non-specialist general readers with an interest in the role of African Americans in the settling of the West."—Midwest Book Review, August 1, 2009

"The story of the African American experience in the Western US, from colonial times to the present, is chronicled in this accessible reference for students in high school and up. The book begins by examining slavery on the moving frontier, and the ways in which the frontier ultimately resulted in the abolition of slavery in America. It continues by examining African American life in the western region as a whole, with material on black cowboys, the rise of the NAACP, the Tulsa race riot, race and organized labor, the era of Black Nationalism, and blacks in Hollywood. The chapter on the African American West since 1980 examines topics including the Rodney King beating, gangsta rap, and suburbanization. The final chapter examines the historiography of the Black West and current issues in multiracial history. A chronology and a glossary are included."—Reference & Research Book News, August 1, 2009

"Recommended."—Library Media Connection, November 1, 2009

"African Americans in the West is the compelling story of the African American experience in the American West. Based on new research, this work expands and updates the scholarship of pioneering historians of the black West (e.g., Loren Katz, Lawrence B. de Graaf, Quintard Taylor), and as such, is destined to become essential reading in the genre. . . . This extensively researched survey of African American in the West is highly recommended for all libraries and levels of readers."—ARBAonline, October 1, 2009
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