The Homestead Act of 1862 provided land to Black individuals willing to settle and farm the western frontier. Despite the Act, Black homesteaders faced significant discrimination and obstacles in their attempts to claim land and establish successful farms.
Black homesteaders struggled to find funding to finance their farming operations. Many financial institutions at the time refused to offer loans or lines of credit to Black people because they believed they would be poor borrowers.
They also faced a legal system that worked against them and a government that frequently neglected their needs. Legal processes in acquiring land and farming were complicated and costly, and Black homesteaders could not afford the fees.
Despite these challenges, Black homesteaders persevered and established thriving communities in Nicodemus, Kansas, DeWitty, Nebraska, and Dearfield, Colorado. These towns provided a sense of community and strength for Black settlers determined to succeed in agriculture and build a life for themselves and their families.
Today, all the communities built by Black homesteaders have vanished, except Nicodemus. Building community within Black society is how we survived. Community has gotten us through to today, and it will help bolster our quest for liberation.