Robinson refers specifically to 'The Oklahoma Campaign'

Robinson refers specifically of efforts to relocate African Americans from the South to open lands in the west as the "Oklahoma Campaign” in his letter of November, 1891 from Bracken County, Kentucky, in which he relates:

I… helped plan the Oklahoma campaign, which defeated the plot of Southern bull-dozers and cow boys, who were given to understand that the Southern plan could not work in a free atmosphere and soil…

The result – the colored men were left alone to take an equal chance in the grab. With the assistance of organized leaders, they secured 1,000 claims of 160 acres each – homes for 1000 families – claims worth from $500 to $5000 each – according to location and convenient tributaries to Langston City…

It is probable that these claims will be contested, but the men show a determination to hold on…

The "Oklahoma Campaign” he describes is the situation that emerged from the 1889 U.S. take-over of Native American lands in Oklahoma Territory. The opportunity to buy land sent many poor white and African American citizens westward, as well as encouraged the railroad companies to follow suit with the prospect of cheap labor and new markets.

Robinsonand others like him, such as Edwin P. McCabe, saw this as an opportunity to create municipal areas in which African Americans could be live and work as a majority and be free from the fears of mob violence and race prejudice.

Many African Americans who migrated west settled in and around Langston, Oklahoma, named for John Mercer Langston, the first African American from Virginia to serve in the US Congress.

The idea of "all-black” towns developing in the west was repugnant to white supremacists who attempted to stop the movement, and in his letter, Robinson mentions being aware of Tourgée’s involvement in "testing of the ‘Jim Crow car’ legislation,” and says he is urging others to consider Tourgée as a possible name for lead counsel in any potential land cases that might arise.

It does not appear as if Tourgée was ever involved in any land cases from the area. It is evident from the records that by 1907, when Oklahoma became a US state, it did so as a state that endorsed and practiced racial segregation.


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