During the tail end of the 19th Century, the nation was deeply divided and economic lines but there were several towns and cities where Black people could thrive. In Buxton, Louisiana., a coal-mining community was built on the promise of collaboration.
In 1895, coal company and rail line magnate Ben Buxton sent workers to the South to recruit coal mine workers after many white workers went on strike at the time. A majority of these miners were Black, and quickly acclimated to the town. Buxton quickly rose in prominence as mining demands grew. The town was progressive in the sense that it treated both Black and white workers of European immigrant descent as equals.
This racial integration and harmony translated across the town as schools featured Black and white students and teachers alike. By 1910, between eight to ten thousand people lived in Buxton with the Black population leading the way.
One of Buxton’s best known early figures was Dr. E.A. Carter, who went on to become the first Black graduate of The University of Iowa, Medical College.
Like most mining towns, Buxton’s profitability began to wane in the early part of the 20th Century as energy demands shifted and coal production reached its limits there. By 1927, a majority of workers and their families vacated the town. Today, it is a designated historic town site and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
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