Guides & Resources

Growing Black Roots: The Black Botanical LegacyPlanting Seeds of Freedom in the Pecos Valley of New Mexico


How Blackdom Grew Its Roots through Dry-Farming

In the early twentieth century, Frank Boyer and Daniel Keys undertook a 2,000-mile journey by foot from Pelham, Georgia to Roswell, New Mexico. Motivated to produce a sovereign community and elevate their economic status without the persecution of the US’ Jim Crows Laws, Blackdom was incorporated in 1903 as first Black settlement of the New Mexico Territory. The recruitment of Southern Black families brought a wealth of Southern and African agricultural knowledge to the Pecos Valley, where they would be challenged by calcareous soils and drought. Despite these challenges, this community cultivated Alfalfa, apples, Sorghum, beans, potatoes, cotton, cantaloupe, onions, and sugar beets. In fact, Boyer boasted the largest hay harvest business in Dexter, NM. Today, Blackdom is a ghost town and the desert grasslands have been replaced by Chihuahuan Desert scrub. But the legacy lives on through their descendants and in the survival of Vado, NM – a second community founded farther south from Blackdom.

Teacher’s Resources

This lecture comes with a complete lesson plan and accompanying Google Slide deck for you to customize for your class. To make an editable copy of the Google Slides deck for your classroom, click the link and select File > Make a copy.

Learn more about the teacher resources here

Maya L Allen

Maya L Allen

University of New Mexico Department of Biology

With a background in systematics of algae as an undergraduate researcher, Ms. Allen has since gone on to work in marine, fresh-water and terrestrial systems. Ms. Allen also was a participant in the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections Project as an undergraduate, where she contributed to this important effort to make academic collections more accessible to the global research community and the public. She conducted her MS thesis work on resolving the phylogeny of Glossopetalon, a small genus of flowering shrubs native to SW North America using restriction site associated DNA sequencing (RAD-seq). Ms. Allen has transitioned to exploring research questions focused on the phenotypic plasticity’s role in evolution and patterns of plasticity throughout species ranges. As a graduate student at UNM she is a mentor to students from underrepresented groups through the Project for New Mexico Graduate Students of Color program and as a Research Coaching Fellow.

About the Growing Black Roots: The Black Botanical Legacy Series

A groundbreaking FREE virtual lecture series highlighting Black Botanists who will inspire others to pursue a career in plants and highlight pathways to diversity and inclusion in botanical sciences.

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