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This collection of oral histories details the African American experience in the California's Central Valley through the life stories of eleven longtime residents and community elders. These histories were gathered between 2004 and 2006 in a project coordinated by community volunteer Nancy Whittle who also conducted most of the interviews. Highlights of the collection include two conversations with the Fresno Police Department's first African American Sergeant Jack Kelley, founder of the African American Historical and Cultural Museum of the San Joaquin Valley. Interviews with other civic leaders include Dr. Edward Mosley and Pastor Jimmie D. Adams. Goldie Jones and Edna Reid shared family histories that detail their agricultural heritage. Business owners Nadir Ali, Mack Haynes, and Charley Scott shared their recollections of West Fresno and Chinatown. These oral histories document the lives and experiences of the generation after those recorded in the Ethnic Oral History Project, 1977-1978


Subjects include:  African American migration to California's Central Valley, social, political and cultural organizations in the community, the importance of religion in personal and community life, changes in neighborhoods and districts, discrimination and the Civil Rights Era, and personal remembrances of African American farming families, laborers, professional and business people.

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Fresno Cubs at FInk Smith Park c

Cubs Baseball Team at Fink-Smith Playground, circa 1914. First all black amateur baseball team in Fresno. First row, seated, left to right: unidentified, Frank Robinson, and Earl Jones. Second row, left to right: Joe Holmes, unidentified, Percy Bost, Clarence Watkins, and unidentified. Third row: Happy Seixas, unidentified, and Carthon Bigby. William A. Bigby, Jr. Oral History, Fresno County Historical Society Archives.

* Please note that language and vernacular in oral histories are, by their nature, meant to reflect common usage of the day. Through this unedited method, historical accuracy is preserved rather than interpreted.



© 2021. These oral histories are licensed under a CC BY_NC_ND 4.0 license

Creative Commons BY-NC-ND: This license allows users to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format in unadapted form only, for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator, Fresno County Historical Society. 

CC BY-NC-ND includes the following elements:
BY  – Credit must be given to the creator. 
NC  – Only noncommercial uses of the work are permitted
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