Friday, June 11, 2010

A Black Utopia in the Heartland -- A Good Read!

Buxton - A Black Utopia in the Heartland
by Dorothy Schwieder, Joseph Hraba 
and Elmer Schwieder
[Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 2003]
  From 1900 to the early 1920s, an unusual community existed in America's heartland: Buxton, Iowa, established by the Consolidated Coal Company. The majority of Buxton's five thousand residents were African Americans--a highly unusual racial composition for a state which was over 90 percent white. At a time when both southern and northern blacks were disadvantaged and oppressed, blacks in Buxton enjoyed true racial integration--steady employment, above-average wages, decent housing, and minimal discrimination. For such reasons, Buxton was commonly known as "the black man's utopia in Iowa."  Now, eighty years after the town's demise, this truly interdisciplinary history of a unique Iowa community remains a compelling story. 
  "This interdisciplinary study combines documentary materials with oral history to provide a vivid descriptive picture of Buxton ... The authors have provided an excellent work demonstrating the use of documentary evidence and personal interviews to reconstruct a picture of a community of the past ... of considerable value, particulary, for the areas of race relations and community studies."
  --Contemporary Sociology

  Dorothy Schwieder is professor emerita of history at Iowa State University and the author of, among many other books, Growing Up with the Town: Family and Community on the Great Plains (Iowa 2002), Iowa: The Middle Land, and Black Diamonds: Life and Work in Iowa's Coal-Mining Communities. Joseph Hraba is professor of sociology at Iowa State University, and Elmer Schwieder is professor emeritus of family environment at Iowa State University.
Transcribed from the back cover of 
Buxton - A Black Utopia in the Heartland

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