African-American History

Rep. John Lewis is the last living speaker from the March on Washington, the 1963 landmark civil rights protest that culminated with Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

But before Lewis dedicated his life to fighting for racial equality, he grew up in Troy, Ala., with dreams of becoming a different kind of orator.

"When I was very young, I wanted to preach the gospel," Lewis said on a visit to StoryCorps in February 2018.

He wanted to be a minister. His nearest congregation was the family livestock.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

About a century ago, African-American settlements sprang up across the West. Now, one of those sites in northern Colorado is set to host new houses.

The Black American West Museum, based in Denver, owns a number of properties in what used to be the town of Dearfield, Colorado. But a national homebuilding company, CMH Homes, Inc., also known as Clayton Homes, is now taking steps to turn other parts of the town into new residences.

At the beginning of Esi Edugyan's new book Washington Black, it seems the narrator is not going anywhere.

It's the 1830s, and the narrator, a boy named George Washington Black, is enslaved on the British-controlled island of Barbados. He seems likely to be worked to death in sugar cane fields — until he's carried away.

He's made into an assistant of a visiting white man, and they become friends. Sort of.

"Any true friendship between them is impossible because of the power imbalance – it's just too great," Edugyan says in an interview.