Concluding Statements Through the Prism of Race: The Meaning of African-American History in the West
The new western history, with its emphasis on race, class, and gender, owes much to the innovative scholarship on African-American history and the black studies that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. Ironically, the scholarship they praise remains focused largely on the South or the East, since the experiences of African Americans west of the ninety-eighth meridian have yet to be addressed in any systematic, comprehensive manner. This dearth of black western scholarship is particularly surprising considering the size of the black population. As early as 1870, African Americans constituted 12% of the region's population, some 284,000 people, and resided in every state and territory in the American West. Reconstructing black western history is imperative not simply because of the commendable desire to celebrate the region's rich ethnic diversity or to “correct” prevailing stereotypes.
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