Book helps Tempe celebrate its journey to achieve diversity


Story by Kris Baxter-Ging

3It seems fitting that as America
celebrates the 50th anniversary of
the March on Washington that the
Tempe History Museum introduces
a new book about African-American
history in Tempe.
In his book “The African American
Experience in Tempe,” Jared Smith,
history curator for Tempe History
Museum, explored the journey of
African-Americans in Tempe from the
earliest days of the community until
The book traces the hardships
faced by African-Americans in the
late 1890s and early 1900s and shows
Tempe’s progression as a diverse and
welcoming society.
It tells the stories of Buffalo
soldiers, railroad workers, barbers,
athletes, college students, World War
II veterans, blacksmiths, musicians and
the everyday people of the time.
The book is filled with photos of
Tempe from 1890s through present
day. Also featured are visits by Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. and President
Barack Obama, as well as an interview
with Corey Woods, Tempe’s first
African-American City Council
Smith’s book is a publication of the
Tempe History Museum and its African
American Advisory Committee.
It was published with a grant from
Arizona Humanities Council. Tempe
was not always a welcoming place for
African Americans.
The Ku Klux Klan had a presence
in Tempe in the 1920s, and Tempe
was considered a “sundown town”
for African Americans as recently as
60 years ago, meaning that African
Americans were not welcome in the
city after sundown.
“From struggle to acceptance, the
stories and accounts in this book tell
the history of the African American
experience in our community,” Woods
“I’m excited about the book release
and look forward to moderating the
panel discussion.”
Those interested in receiving a copy
of the free book were invited to visit
the museum at 7 p.m. on Sept. 5 to
attend a forum about Tempe’s African
American history. Members of the
African American Advisory Committee,
which helped collect and preserve the
history for the benefit of society, were
due to participate. Woods planned to
facilitate the discussion.



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