California Institute for Rural Studies

California Institute for Rural Studies

We Are Not Strangers Here highlights hidden histories of African Americans who have shaped California’s food and farming culture from early statehood to the present. The project consists of a six-part Cal Ag Roots podcast series and a physical exhibit designed to travel throughout California. The exhibit features big, beautiful banners full of archival photos that accompany the podcast’s stories. After a COVID-19 pause that delayed the exhibit’s launch nearly a year, the exhibit officially launched in February 2021! 

We are also digitally reconceiving the We Are Not Strangers Here exhibit so that people can enjoy it online. Please check out agroots.org for updates on the digital exhibit’s launch.

Exhibit Tour Schedule

  • February 14, 2021  – May 16, 2021: Sutter County Museum, Yuba City
  • May 30, 2021 – August 1, 2-21: Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, Earlimart
  • August 15, 2021 – October 10, 2021 San Luis Obispo Coast District of California State Parks
  • October 31, 2021 – December 26, 2021: Tulare County Museum, Visalia
  • January 9, 2022 – June 5, 2022: The Society of California Pioneers, San Francisco 
  • January 29, 2023 – April 2, 2023: San Diego Public Library, San Diego

Click here to book a tour stop: https://exhibitenvoy.org/exhibits/we-are-not-strangers-here-african-american-histories-in-rural-california/

Relationships to the land can be seen throughout African American history and culture. However, Black Californians haven’t just long been connected to the natural world in the past.

Photo: Will Scott Jr. at work on his farm, 2015. Credit: Alice Daniel/KQED.

Music Credit for Episode 6: “Strange Persons” by Kicksta; “Summer Breeze” and “Inward” by HansTroost; Woke Up this Morning-Jazz Organ (ID 1293) by Lobo Loco. Tribe of Noise licensing information can be found here: prosearch.tribeofnoise.com/pages/terms

Never miss an episode — subscribe today:

Cal Ag Roots Supporters

Huge THANKS to the following generous supporters of Cal Ag Roots. This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In 1908, African American pioneers established the town of Allensworth forty miles north of Bakersfield as part of the broader Black Town Movement. Discover how these settlers not only built buildings, established businesses, and planted crops–they also inspired the imagination as they tested what was possible in rural California. 

Photo Credit: Teachers at the Allensworth School, c. 1915 [090-2156]. Courtesy California State Parks.

Music Credits for Episode 5: “Strange Persons” by Kicksta; “Summer Breeze” and “Inward” by HansTroost; Over the Water, Humans Gather by Dr. Turtle; “Just Gone” by King Olivers Creole Jazz Band; and The Fish Are Jumping by deangwolfe. Tribe of Noise licensing information can be found here: prosearch.tribeofnoise.com/pages/terms

You can listen online, or better yet, you can subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode.

Never miss an episode — subscribe today:

Cal Ag Roots Supporters

Huge THANKS to the following generous supporters of Cal Ag Roots. This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Starting as early as the 19th century, Black communities–large and small, loosely organized and formal took shape across rural California. Discover the undertold history of California’s Black rural settlements including how these communities represent the tension between the promises and the challenges of living in the Golden State. 

Photo Credit: Goldie Beavers, playing on a rope swing by her home in Teviston, 1964. Courtesy: Ernest Lowe, photographer.

Music Credits for Episode 4: “Strange Persons” by Kicksta; “Summer Breeze” and “Inward” by HansTroost; Over the Water, Humans Gather by Dr. Turtle; and The Fish Are Jumping by deangwolfe. Tribe of Noise licensing information can be found here: prosearch.tribeofnoise.com/pages/terms

You can listen online, or better yet, you can subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode.

Never miss an episode — subscribe today:

Cal Ag Roots Supporters

Huge THANKS to the following generous supporters of Cal Ag Roots. This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Black people have long cultivated the land in rural California. And in doing so, they’ve contributed to what we grow and how we grow crops in the state. Discover how early African American farmers and ranchers didn’t just grow crops and raise livestock throughout the Golden State. They also cultivated societal change that helped make California what it is today.

Photo Credit: Portrait of Lucy Hinds with infant, Ernest L. Hinds, circa 1886. Courtesy: Roberts Family Papers, African American Museum and Library at Oakland.

Music Credits for Episode 3: “Strange Persons” by Kicksta; “Summer Breeze” and “Inward” by HansTroost; Over the Water, Humans Gather by Dr. Turtle; and The Fish Are Jumping by deangwolfe.

You can listen online, or better yet, you can subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode.

Never miss an episode — subscribe today:

Cal Ag Roots Supporters

Huge THANKS to the following generous supporters of Cal Ag Roots. This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

One of the most impactful ways we come to know about places is through the stories we tell about them. Discover how Black people in rural California have been remembered — and forgotten — in the stories and landmarks that tell the beginnings of the Golden State.

Photo Credit: Farmhand and horse standing next to a shed, c. 1908. Courtesy: Roberts Family Papers, African American Museum and Library at Oakland.

Music Credits for Episode 2: “Strange Persons” by Kicksta; “Petit Gennevilliers (Celesta”) by MagnusMoone; “inward” and “Le Vulcain” by HansTroost. Tribe of Noise licensing information can be found here: prosearch.tribeofnoise.com/pages/terms

You can listen online, or better yet, you can subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode.

Never miss an episode — subscribe today:

Cal Ag Roots Supporters

Huge THANKS to the following generous supporters of Cal Ag Roots. This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Thousands of African Americans participated in the California Gold Rush. Some were still enslaved when they did like 49er Alvin Coffey. Join us for Episode 1 to learn more about Coffey’s fascinating tale. 

Photo Credit: Alvin Coffey, Tehama County, c. 1880s. Courtesy of the Society of California Pioneers.

Music Credits for Episode 1: “Strange Persons” by Kicksta; “Petit Gennevilliers (Celesta”) by MagnusMoone; and “Summer Breeze” and “Inward” by HansTroost. Tribe of Noise licensing information can be found here: prosearch.tribeofnoise.com/pages/terms

You can listen online, or better yet, you can subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode.

Never miss an episode — subscribe today:

Cal Ag Roots Supporters

Huge THANKS to the following generous supporters of Cal Ag Roots. This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

We Are Not Strangers Here is shining a light on African Americans in the history of California agriculture and rural communities, and black people’s relationship with food, farming and land. This Cal Ag Roots story series has been in the works for quite some time and we’re thrilled to announce that you can now tune in.

We Are Not Strangers Here will be released weekly– click the links below to listen:

Thousands of African Americans participated in the California Gold Rush. Some were still enslaved when they did like 49er Alvin Coffey. Join us for Episode 1 to learn more about Coffey’s fascinating tale. 

One of the most impactful ways we come to know about places is through the stories we tell about them. Discover how Black people in rural California have been remembered–and forgotten–in the stories and landmarks that tell the beginnings of the Golden State.

Black people have long cultivated the land in rural California. And in doing so, they’ve contributed to what we grow and how we grow crops in the state. Discover how early African American farmers and ranchers didn’t just grow crops and raise livestock throughout the Golden State. They also cultivated societal change that helped make California what it is today.

Starting as early as the 19th century, Black communities–large and small, loosely organized and formal took shape across rural California. Discover the undertold history of California’s Black rural settlements including how these communities represent the tension between the promises and the challenges of living in the Golden State. 

In 1908, African American pioneers established the town of Allensworth forty miles north of Bakersfield as part of the broader Black Town Movement. Discover how these settlers not only built buildings, established businesses, and planted crops–they also inspired the imagination as they tested what was possible in rural California. 

Relationships to the land can be seen throughout African American history and culture. However, Black Californians haven’t just long been connected to the natural world in the past.

You can listen online, or better yet, you can subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode.

Farmhand and horse standing next to shed in Tulare County, Roberts Family Papers, African American Museum and Library of Oakland
Farmhand and horse standing next to shed in Tulare County, Roberts Family Papers, African American Museum and Library of Oakland

The We Are Not Strangers Here stories is being told in two ways: 1) through a traveling exhibition– which will launch in 2021 as cultural institutions re-open in California– comprised of archival visual and textual materials and 2) through our podcast series.We Are Not Strangers Here is a collaboration between Susan Anderson of the California African American Museum, the California Historical Society, Exhibit Envoy and Amy Cohen, Dr. Caroline Collins from UC San Diego, and the Cal Ag Roots Project at the California Institute for Rural Studies. This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities (Visit calhum.org to learn more), and the 11th Hour Project at the Schmidt Family Foundation.

Cal Ag Roots Supporters

Huge THANKS to the following generous supporters of Cal Ag Roots. This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.