Black History Regional Facts
Colorado Springs founder General William Jackson Palmer was one impetus for Black Americans moving to the area.
After the Civil War ended in 1865, Palmer – a former Union Army general – decreed that all children regardless of color would attend school together. Black families headed west with the promise of a more successful future for their children. [Source: Pikes Peak Library District]
Fannie Mae Duncan made a huge impact on the city during the Civil Rights Movement.
Duncan, a Black woman and business owner, made incredible progress in Colorado Springs during one of the country’s most volatile times. While the rest of the country was deep in Jim Crow laws, Colorado Springs was comparatively progressive. Duncan was granted a loan to start her business. Her jazz venue, the Cotton Club, became famously known for its phrase “Everybody Welcome.” Located next to where the Pikes Peak Center is today, the club welcomed famous acts including Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and Etta James. [Source: Rocky Mountain Food Tours]
Tuskegee Airman and decorated Air Force fighter pilot James Randall was a beloved resident of Colorado Springs.
Randall flew 75 combat missions in Korea, and in Vietnam was part of Operation Rolling Thunder. In 1965, he was shot down while flying his 44th mission to destroy a bridge near the border. Despite injuries, he avoided capture and radioed for help. After healing, he retired to Colorado Springs. Col. Randall’s recognitions include the Congressional Gold Medal, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal and Meritorious Service Medal. [Source: The Gazette]
The Carter Payne was once an African church built on land donated by General William Jackson Palmer.
The Carter Payne – now home to several local businesses like Local Relic, Immerse Cuisine and The Cellar – was built in 1897 as an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. The congregation once based in The Carter Payne Chapel has since moved to another location, but the historic building serves as an important piece of the city’s history. [Source: El Pomar Foundation]
Where to Go to Learn More
The CSPM is hosting guided tours on select days for Black History Month.
Explore how since the founding of Colorado Springs in 1871, African Americans have continued to socially, politically, intellectually, culturally and economically shape the Pikes Peak Region.
- Location: Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum at 215 S Tejon St.
- Plan your visit: Black History Month tours, Black History Live, Lecture series, and Lunch & Learn
- Contact: 719-385-5990, firstname.lastname@example.org; RSVPs are required.
The AAHGSCS’s mission is to ensure African-Americans are included as an integral part of the history of the Pikes Peak Region and our nation. Visit the museum to learn about the region’s rich African-American history.
The History Colorado app explores the people and stories that have helped shape the state with particular focus on traditionally underserved communities. Starting with History Colorado’s Black Heritage Trail, users can delve into the history and impact of African Americans in Colorado via audio stops, images, text descriptions from History Colorado’s extensive collection and more.
Support Black-Owned Businesses Year-Round
While Black History Month in February serves as an annual reminder, it’s vital to our region’s success to support Black-owned businesses every month. Here are several resources to leverage to find new businesses to support.