Celebrating Black History

Paul Stewart

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Interview Transcript

Join us in celebrating Black History Month by listening to an excerpt of an interview of Colorado cowboy Charlie Rothwell, one of more than 100 black pioneers whose oral histories are being digitally preserved by UNC, and viewing a video produced by UNC's videographers about our Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

Voices from the Past

Colorado cowboy Charlie Rothwell's voice of decades ago is being carefully archived at the University of Northern Colorado, preserving a piece of black history that was captured on tape by Denver historian and retired barber Paul Stewart.

Stewart, who was told as a child that his dream of being a cowboy was unlikely because there "were no black cowboys," found that to be untrue when as an adult he moved to Denver, where he met black pioneers who lived the West of his imagination.

He began capturing their voices on a reel-to-reel tape recorder in the 1970s, preserving stories, voices and memories of not only black cowboys, but of African American pioneers.

In time, his hobby and interest led him to establish the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center in Denver, which he directed and curated over the years.

Stewart recently offered UNC the opportunity to digitize the content from more than 100 tapes of black pioneers, and also gave the university more than 1,800 books and publications for its Africana Studies collection.

The digitized audio recordings and books will become part of an Africana Studies collection that also includes the letters and records of O.T. Jackson, who established the black agricultural colony of Dearfield, 23 miles east of Greeley. Dearfield, where Rothwell lived for a time, is the site of ongoing archaeological, historical and anthropological research.

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.

Related

  • UNC's Black History Month Events
  • UNC alumna Carlotta Walls LaNier and Marie L. Greenwood are both part of a Black History Month program and exhibit at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center through March 2, according to the Denver Post.