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African Americans in the Shadow of Mt. Shasta: The Black Community of Weed, California

In the following article, James Langford, the first black teacher in Weed, briefly describes the history of the African American community there.  Langford, who graduated from California State University at San Francisco with an elementary teaching credential in the spring of 1974, began teaching at the Weed Union Elementary School on August 28, 1974.  He retired on June 7, 2007,  after thirty-three years.

It was June, 1923, when five young Black men set out in a Model T Ford from Broken Bow, Oklahoma, to a small town in northern California.  They were following the sounds of promise they had heard in the words of a young hobo, recently returned from a trip to the West Coast.  He told of a better life for Black people in this burgeoning lumber town.  “He said there was a mountain right there close to Weed you’d see snow the year round.”  These are the words of Danny Piggee, describing how he first heard of Weed, the town he was to live in for the next thirty-seven years.  “Weed was a miracle for Black people for work.”  

When he and his cousin, Jim Hopkins, and their three companions  reached Weed at noon on June 19, 1923, after fourteen and a half days on the road, they ate dinner, went to the hiring office of Weed Lumber Company, then to the Weed Hospital for health checks, and started work the next morning.  A common laborer in the Weed mill was paid $3.60 for eight hours.  Piggee went to work taking down lumber on the yard with D. Grant, one of his Oklahoma companions, as his partner.  Because Grant had previous experience in this contract work, Piggee made over $5.00 the first day he worked.  As he thought to himself at the time, “Boy, I oughta been here for years back.”  In describing the town of Weed as it was in 1923, he said, “You could just almost pick your jobs when I came here.  And it was a lotta, lotta Black folks here.”

One thousand African-Americans lived in Weed by the mid-1920s, when the town’s population reached over six thousand.  In 1922, R. A. Long of Long-Bell Lumber Company had assumed

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