Friday, February 08, 2008

Little Known Segment of Silicon Valley history, Santa Clara Valley's African-Americans

clipped from
Rodriguez: Valley's black history uncovered by unlikely SJSU scholar

"Most of them were farmers, and they were successful farmers," Jerke said in her German-accented English. "You won't find any of this in the textbooks."

Or hardly anywhere else. Which is why the San Jose State University instructor wants to write the first full history of the county's small but fascinating African-American community.

That won't be easy. Because historians paid little heed to the valley's first blacks, Jerke plans to work backward by picking through the memories and family albums of their descendants and more recent arrivals. She's hoping they'll come see the exhibit and contact her.

The kids looked at early, black-and-white photos of "Negroes" and "colored" folk wearing courtly, wrist-to-neck shirts or blouses and illustrious hats. The children wondered if they were slaves, servants or freemen. And where did they go to school?

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San Jose Main library display and history exhibit on little documented segment of Silicon Valley history, Santa Clara Valley's African-Americans. Created by San Jose State University, SJSU, scholar Iris Jerke.