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Roots Exhibit

Roots is a Black History Month celebration in rural Amador County, honoring African American influence on arts and culture. It was founded in collaboration with Amador Arts and the Student Director of Color, aiming to uplift the voices of rural people of color, particularly youth, who often feel unseen in the community.

I See You by Deja Douglas, artist and administrator.

I See You by Deja Douglas, Amador County artist and founder of Roots program—Celebrating the legacy of Black communities in rural spaces.

Roots extends its impact through a grant initiative—Encouraging, Promoting, and Supporting Rural Black Communities. In the latest cycle, Deja Douglas, a college Junior at Sacramento State University and media artist, received the Roots grant to further her work celebrating Amador County’s rich cultural heritage, including Black and Mexican rural creatives such as herself. She will create a permanent digital storyplace for youth and young adults to document rural lives and celebrate interculturality throughout Amador’s non-homogeneous cultures, especially rural Black and Indigenous Youth and all cultural heritages.


Did You Know?

California Gold Country has a history of rich diversity and that includes major contributions from Black Miners, Pioneers, and Leaders. Find out more below:


Beckwourth Pass
Did you know? Bechwourth Pass on Route 70 is named after freed, Black Slave James Beckwourth who discovered this pass, the LOWEST route across the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Find out more 




Argonaut Mine

Argonaut Mine
Did you know? Argonaut Mine (originally founded as Pioneer Mine, 1850) in Jackson, CA was founded by two freed, Black Slaves William Tudor and James Hager. Learn more HERE.



Alex Haley

Roots by Alex Haley
Did you know? Alex Haley rented the Old Schoolhouse in Volcano California at the corner of Plug and National Streets. Haley spend at least a week renting this house where he compiled the book Roots. More info HERE.

Musician with Panflute

Cowboy Poetry
Did you know? Cowboy Poetry is a core competent to our Gold Rush culture! Black Cowboy Poets are the focus of the 2020 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV. Find our more HERE Don Flemons is a famous, contemporary Black Cowboy Poet from Pheonix, Arizona who is also an accomplished GRAMMY-award winning musician and recipient of the 2020 United States Artist Fellowship award for the Traditional Arts category which is generously supported by the Andrew W. Melon Foundation. His “Black Cowboys” Album peaked at #4 on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart. Learn more HERE


Did you know that one in four frontier cowboys were Black? More info HERE.                        

Black History Month is an established, nationally recognized observance that honors the lives, experiences, and history of Blacks in America. For almost 50 years, it has reminded us of the extraordinary men and women who achieved incredible things often in the face of unimaginable injustice and inequality. All too often the contributions of Black Americans, as well as those of women and other historically marginalized communities, have been forgotten or purposely relegated into the obscurity of a lost history amid bigotry and discrimination. Since Africans arrived on the shores of North America over 400 years ago, they have made significant contributions to the American motif in various fields including art, music, poetry, science, politics, technology, geographic exploration and industry.

For more on Black contributions during the Gold Rush: “Documenting The History Of African-Americans In The California Gold Rush”

Black man with horse

Mary Fields (c. 1832–1914) (a.k.a. Stagecoach Mary)
was the first African-American female star route mail carrier in the United States.


Black Cowboys of the Old West: True, Sensational, And Little Known Stories From History by Tricia Martineau Wagner – The word cowboy conjures up vivid images of rugged men on saddled horses—men lassoing cattle, riding bulls, or brandishing guns in a shoot-out. White men, as Hollywood remembers them. What is woefully missing from these scenes is their counterparts: the black cowboys who made up one-fourth of the wranglers and rodeo riders. This book tells their story.

Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves (Race and Ethnicity in the American West) by Art T. Burton – Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves appears as one of “eight notable Oklahomans,” the “most feared U.S. marshal in the Indian country.” That Reeves was also an African American who had spent his early life as a slave in Arkansas and Texas makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable. Bucking the odds (“I’m sorry, we didn’t keep black people’s history,” a clerk at one of Oklahoma’s local historical societies answered a query), Art T. Burton sifts through fact and legend to discover the truth.

Amador County Roots 2020 artwork

Amador County Roots 2020 artwork by N. Hawkins.

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