James House born in San Diego California in 1962. He received his B.S Degree from Cal State Hayward, and an Adult Education Teaching Credential from UC. Berkeley Extension Program.
In 2000, James visited Western Canada for the first time while working as a professional baseball recruiter for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He met people from all walks of life and many different backgrounds and quickly realized that there is a very different racial attitude north of the American border.
More About the Book
America has a history of hatred directed at people of color. It is still hard to imagine what black ancestors endured during those dark days. I can only study the world that my own great-grandparents, grandparents and parents knew through images in our history books depicting how black families dealt with racial oppression. Yet, for millions of black Americans, the behavior and attitudes of many white people will always be an integral part of our history and future.
The end of slavery did not bring an end to the problems of black Americans.
Attitudes didn't change overnight. They hardly changed for the last 100 years. In fact, their lives were worse in many ways. White southerners believed that, once a slave, always a slave. Many believed that a free black man needed strict control, lest he attempt to ascend to the level of the white man.
The Black West
Between 1866 and the early 1870's, the white supremacist movement emerged and spread throughout the southern United States. Although the reconstruction period that followed the Civil War was over, the rights of the newly freed black population were still subject to the control of white overseers. Former slaves were not free at all. Because blacks had no means of economic survival, freedom represented little more than the dawn of false hope.
Black Americans in the southern states were a powerless group attempting to fit into a society where they were not welcomed. They had to assimilate and adapt to the ways of the white man, who held all the power. Most blacks were farmers, but when it came time to sell their crops, they were often cheated by the non-blacks operating the mills. Unable to obtain financing for business ventures, they had little to no choice but to accept such unfair treatment. This was not how the free blacks envisioned their future, and disadvantages they faced reinforced their determination to move forward and take their rightful place in a new America.
The Last Chance for Freedom
Some blacks became disillusioned at the prospect of ever finding a homestead in America. With nowhere to go, some felt their only option was to explore the possibility of returning to Africa; the land of their ancestors. Liberia was founded in 1822 as a result of the efforts of the American Colonization Society to settle freed American slaves in West Africa. In the four decades prior to the American Civil War, as many as 12,000 blacks voluntarily relocated to Africa. Liberia eventually became an independent republic in 1847.
The back to Africa movement gradually declined, but was revived in the late
1870's when blacks in the south faced violence and intimidation from the Ku
Klux Klan. Interest in the African migration reached a peak in the 1890's when
racism, murder, and violence were at their peak. During this period, approx-imately six-hundred-fifty people left Arkansas, more than from any other state for a new life in West Africa.
Journey to Alberta
Blacks understood that they would never be truly free if they continued to live
among the former slave owners, but there was a problem of where to go. An unlikely "savior" drew blacks to the wide open prairies north of the American border.
In the early 1900s, the Canadian government advertised in the United States that farmland was available in Saskatchewan and northern Alberta. Some black Americans headed for Alberta, Canada, including a small group from Oklahoma. The group traveled by rail to St. Paul, Minnesota, and on to Manitoba, Canada continuing to Maidstone, Saskatchewan where about twelve black families settled. The rest traveled to Edmonton, Alberta. From there, they wrote to their wives to begin the migration process.
Unfortunately, black immigrants were not part of the plan when it came down
to populating the Canadian west. The ads were aimed at a different audience, and some felt that these poor black farmers would somehow undervalue the land and community. Such 'undesirables' could make it difficult to attract white Americans and Europeans to the province.