Celebrate Black History Month

     Arizona became a United States Territory in February, 1863, as a “free” state abolishing slavery, one month after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  Although the Thirteenth Amendment eradicated slavery in 1865, African-Americans faced an arduous process of integrating into society as a whole and fighting for equal civil rights.

     In honor of Black History Month, the Digital Arizona Library (DAZL) team has searched through our digital content to highlight African-American history in Arizona.    

Fife Symington walks in MLK Day Parade ca. 1990s

Arizona Governor Fife Symington, 1991 – 1997, marching in a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade in Phoenix, Arizona, 1990s (original date unknown)  

Arizona Digital Newspaper Project

“The Organic Act,” Arizona Miner, April 6, 1864 (p. 4, column 3, sec. 3)
“Slavery Abolished,Arizona Miner, January 24, 1866 (p. 2, column 3)
“James Crow Bill Passed,” Arizona Republican, March 18, 1909 (p. 1, column 3)

Arizona Memory Project

April 1 – United States 10th Army Calvary troops at Fort Apache – Army African American troops, 1890
African American Soldier in Training Shooting – behind an Adobe Wall at Fort Huachuca, Arizona 1943
African American Soldiers in Marching Formation – with Guns at Fort Huachuca, Arizona 1943

Emancipation Proclamation – First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln, by Francis Bicknell Carpenter, (Lantern Slide 1920 – 1939) 

“Black Heritage in Arizona – First Families,” a booklet, published by the Phoenix Urban League, about the migration of early African American families in Arizona (published in 1976)

“Black Heritage in Arizona – Estevan Came 1539,” booklet about a black slave named Estevan who acted as a guide into Arizona
“Fighting for Uncle Sam” Mural at the New African American Recreation Center Dedication, Fort Huachuca, Arizona, 1943, Painted by Chicago Artist William E. Scott


Reading Arizona

“Downtown Phoenix,” by Suad Mahmuljin, Seth J. Anderson, and Jim McPherson, Chapter four, “African Americans in Downtown Phoenix,” pp. 81 – 94, 2012


Additional Resources

Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday – Arizona Time Capsule – 1980’s – Politics & reform 

African American Historic Property Survey from the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office.

Phoenix Tribune front page, August 3, 1918

“Colored Boys Given Rousing Send – Off,” The Phoenix Tribune, August 3, 1918, first Arizona newspaper written for the African American community in Phoenix, front page, published during World War I, image.

Newspaper available on microfilm at the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Records Division, Polly Rosenbaum Archives at 1901 W. Madison, Phoenix, AZ

  • See also our collection of African American newspapers from Arizona, available on microfilm:
    • Phoenix Tribune 8/03/1918 - 3/31/1931
    • Arizona Gleam 12/15/1929 - 11/26/1937
    • Phoenix Index 8/12/1939-8/29/1942 
    • Arizona Informant 4/8/1971 – 12/19/2012