Extra Credit Blog #1

Black Social Movements in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands: The Story of Little Liberia was a presentation given by Dr. Laura Hooton on April 17th at 12pm in the SMU Fondren Library. Dr. Hooten studied at UC San Diego and has spent the last decade studying Little Liberia and other subjects similar to it, which makes her credible to speak on such a topic.

In summary, the lecture focused on a few different key points; Little Liberia as a social movement and lack business, white supremacy and the overlap of Mexican and African American history. Since the beginning of Little Liberia they have Added to the complexity and vibrancy of the United States. Little Liberia was started in 1917, as an African American company that incorporated the borderlands. When it first started it actually functioned as an Agrarian economic venture and was built on generations of African American migrations. It focused originally on livestock and agriculture: for example cow, sheep, and wheat. Wheat being their primary focus and goal. In 1921, Little Liberia was looking for change and a shift. They were in search of national support. Continuing into 1922, they were still out to find more support and now looking for more leaders and members. Big part of their focus for recruiting people was Oklahoma; Tulsa, Muskogee, Bristol. One of their missions was to build a hotel on company lands. This would attract Americans who travel for gambling etc. They also wanted to build a Mexican and African American bank and sanatorium, this never happened due to financial reasons. By 1923, a sister organization was founded. The organization was an International welfare league. This organization was very upfront and blunt with their opinions and a well known quote they are known for “White supremacy is a cancer on international tissue”. This is a prime example of what this organization stood for and how strongly they felt about it. In 1927, the community faced a hit and this was the year of its fall. Board of directors called for an audit and faced fraud accusations. The company filed for bankruptcy and ended up 27 million dollars in debt. 

Organizations similar to little Liberia include buffalo soldiers. Buffalo Soldiers was one of the first American forces that crossed the border. These borders included Southern California and northeastern Oklahoma. They were considered the first of African American cowboys. 

This event was extremely educational for me as I did not know much on this subject. I was not aware of the overlap of African American history and the Mexico-America borders. It was very fascinating to hear how Little Liberia functioned in terms of business. As far as critique or evaluation for this presentation, I felt it was very well structured for the first half. Dr. Hooten focused on little Liberia in a chronological fashion which was helpful when learning on a new topic and taking notes. One thing I think that could’ve made this presentation even better would be a timeline or other forms of visuals while Dr. Hooten was speaking.


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