(KRQE) – It was the Homestead Act of 1882 which afforded African Americans the chance to expand out west and develop hundreds of acres of land, but in 1901 it was the determination of Frank and Ella Boyer which turned that land into the town of Blackdom, New Mexico.
“Blackdom represents a bold step towards challenging and eliminating the oppressive forces that existed facing African American people, but every bold step towards freedom and resistance creates a bold step to resist that,” says UNM Director of Africana Studies Charles Becknell Jr.
Out to 24 square miles in size at its peak, Blackdom was situated in Chaves County, eight miles west of Dexter and 18 miles south of Roswell.
Complete with a post office, grocery store, church and school, these resources helped to make Blackdom a success. However, the drought of 1916 and location became its downfall.
“The town of Blackdom was self-sustaining by way of agricultural enterprise, but it existed in a part of the state where water was scarce and so access to water was a challenge and politically granting access to water became a political challenge for the residents of Blackdom so there was a drive to be self-sufficient,” says Becknell.
Unfortunately, it was not long after the drought ruined crops that residents were forced to look elsewhere to live.
Once again, people followed the pioneering Boyer family for a new and better establishment in New Mexico.
“The the Boyer family did not give up. They took their dream of an all-black settlement from Blackdom and they settled in the Mesilla Valley and established another black town, Vado,” explains Becknell.
Blackdom is not simply a forgotten ghost town, it represents so much more.
“Blackdom remains forever imprinted in our psyche and our spirit to resist and our spirit to overcome and our spirit to establish our identity in the southwest,” says Becknell.
In 2002, the governor of New Mexico established a day honoring Blackdom. A monument and marker now commemorate the site where the historical town once stood.