Exploring African American History in Seaside; research paper posted for public comment – ​​Monterey Herald

A photo from Dr.’s book. McKibben, Racial Beachhead: Diversity and Democracy in A Military Town. Soldiers at Fort Ord (

SEASIDE – A research paper on African-American history in Seaside that could play a significant role in a California State Parks project has been posted on the City of Seaside website, with a call for community feedback and comments.


The research report “African Americans in Seaside and Fort Ord,” by Carol McKibben, Ph.D., covers the history of the area and the people who played a role in it.

“I wrote a draft that builds on the African American history from my book (‘Racial Beachhead: Diversity and Democracy in a Military Town’), which is an urban history – and immigration story – and encompasses the many ethnic and racial groups that exist there lived. Seaside from the 19th century to the present, but that book also highlighted the critical role African Americans played in Seaside from the 1950s to the present,” McKibben said in an email.

McKibben is an affiliate scholar and lecturer for the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University and has taught courses in California history, urban history, and immigration history at Stanford since 2006. She is the author of “Salinas: A History of Race and Resilience in an Agricultural Town,” “Racial Beachhead: Diversity and Democracy in a Military Town,” and “Beyond Cannery Row: Sicilian Women, Immigration, and Community in Monterey, California, 1915 -99.”

“California State Parks asked me to write a research paper based on my book ‘Racial Beachhead,’ in support of their new public history project for California State Parks,” explains McKibben. “The project focuses on the experiences and histories of African Americans, a group largely excluded from public history exhibits in California. The State Parks Department is working to correct this omission at several locations in California.”

The African American History and Engagement project is a partnership between California State Parks and the California African American Museum to research, document and interpret the history of the Black community in dozens of state parks.

Founded in 1977 and located in Exposition Park in Los Angeles, the California African American Museum is the first fully state-supported African American museum of art, history and culture, recognizing the important role African Americans have played in the cultural, economic, and political development of the American West.

The African American History and Engagement project brings together a diverse team led by history curator Susan D. Anderson of the California African American Museum, according to California State Parks.

The California African American Museum has invested fifty years in interpreting California’s African American past. African American History and Engagement is being awarded one-time, five-year project funding by the state legislature in July 2022. It will provide staff, faculty and partner training to interpret and institutionalize newly restored histories.

More than 24 state parks have been identified as sites associated with significant historical events and characters, reflecting the important contributions of African Americans to the state and local areas, the state agency said. By developing research-based, innovative interpretive projects and engaging with communities, the African American History and Engagement project counters the erasure of Black California from California’s story and restores valuable knowledge of the past, according to officials.

Fort Ord Dunes State Park is being considered as home to a museum site based on African-American history connected to the surrounding communities.

“As I did with all working drafts of my manuscript, I have made this draft available for comment and criticism through the City Clerk’s Office,” McKibben said. “I feel strongly that members of Seaside’s African American community should be given the opportunity to express their opinions before I send it to the State Parks folks who are putting together the exhibit for Fort Ord Recreation Area and Seaside.”

The goals of the African American History and Engagement project include commissioning scholars to conduct research and document community memory to recover histories that have been excluded or falsified, attract visitors, and engage in innovative , on-site explorations of memory sites, and institutionalizing the restoration of these histories through training and hiring staff and volunteers, and archiving materials.

In early May, McKibben attended a Seaside City Council meeting to solicit input from residents, and in June, State Parks representatives plan to visit Seaside to examine the archival collections she used for her book.

Visit for a link to the research paper. Provide feedback and comments to McKibben at