African Americans in Vallejo



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African Americans have been part of the Vallejo mosaic since 1850, the year of the North Bay city’s birth. John Grider, a Tennessee native and former slave who arrived in Vallejo in 1850, was one of the city’s earliest residents and a veteran of the California Bear Flag Revolt of 1846. While many 19th-century black pioneers established homes, businesses, and schools, it was during the Great Migration period of 1910-1970s that the bulk of Vallejo’s black community took firm root. During this period, black folks from throughout the South–tiny towns and big cities alike, from places like Itasca, Texas; Heidelberg, Mississippi; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Lake Wales, Florida–made their way west searching for war-industry jobs at Mare Island Naval Shipyard and lives relatively free of unrelenting racial discord. African Americans in Vallejo chronicles this proud and oftentimes complicated journey.

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