150th anniversary of black exodus from California

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SAN FRANCISCO -- On April 14, 1858, hundreds of African-Americans gathered in Zion Methodist Episcopal Church here to respond to a backlash against their activism against slavery. Although the almost 5,000 blacks had accumulated $2 million in property during the Gold Rush, they did not have the right to vote or to testify in court; their children could not attend the best public schools and they lived in fear of being returned to slavery under the fugitive slave act. They decided their only alternative to persecution in the United States was to move to another country.

Within a week, the first of what would eventually be 800 persons, 20 percent of California's total black population, left for Victoria, British Columbia, where they prospered financially and took prominent roles in the local and provincial government.

A 150th anniversary commemoration of that exodus, led by Mifflin W. Gibbs and other Underground Railroad operatives, takes place in San Francico April 20-25 with a memorial service, a ceremonial launching from Fisherman's Wharf and a scholar's forum.

It occurs against the backdrop of another large outmigration of African-Americans from the Golden State --this time 216,000 leaving California in the past six years.

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William Mandel - 4/23/2008

I would like to see information on why Blacks are leaving California. Is this out-migration a statistically significant fraction? What is the explanation. I do know that some number of elderly African-Americans are moving back to the South because it is home to them and conditions there have changed for the better in terms of Black residence there.