California Mill Towns Attract African American Workers in the 1920s

Oct 2, 2013

As It Was - Episode 2247 A large number of blacks from the rural South became mill workers in the 1920s in the lumber company towns of McCloud and Weed, Calif. The Long-Bell Lumber Co. bought out Abner Weed’s mill and recruited workers from its mills in Louisiana and Alabama, paying each worker’s $89 train fare to the Northwest. By the mid-1920s, one thousand of the 6,000 residents of Weed were black. Another 500 lived in McCloud. Weed was a segregated company town, with blacks confined to one section of town called the Quarters, and banned from eating at white restaurants and attending movie houses.   When International Paper bought the mill in 1956, they sold the houses to the residents and got out of the town-owning business. By 1961, Weed incorporated and the Quarters was officially renamed Lincoln Heights. In 1974, the community recruited and hired its first black teacher, James A. Langford, who 10 years later wrote his master’s thesis on Weed’s black community.  He also collaborated on a 2010 documentary film titled “From the Quarters to Lincoln Heights.” The timber industry has declined, but a century later Weed still has a significant black population.  Source:  Langford, James. "African Americans in the Shadow of Mr. Shasta: The Black Community of Weed, California." Black Blog. Ed. Quintard Taylor., n.d. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.