It cannot be denied that African-Americans have played an important role in California's history even before the Gold Rush, in fact, preceding the American conquest. Many are familiar with the fact that William A. Leidesdorff, John A. Sutter's business associate and fellow landowner, was of mixed African and Danish ancestry, but fewer know that Pio Pico, the last Mexican governor of California, also claimed African blood. In recognition of this heritage, the California State Library has for the last several years displayed a Juneteenth exhibit of choice California African-American items from its collection, celebrating the date in 1865 when America's last slave was freed.
This year, the library has added something new to its Juneteenth commemoration in the shape of a daily calendar for the month of June, visible on the home page of its website. Each page highlights notable California African-American personalities, achievements, and events, from the state's first printing of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation to skilled mountain scout James P. Beckwourth to the stunning, stylized art of Sargent Johnson. Included are many of California's notable Black political figures, among them Byron Rumford and Willie Brown. Also seen is heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson training in San Francisco for his bout with Al Kaufmann.
And everyone is welcome to stop by the library's rotunda at 900 N Street in Sacramento between 9:30 and 4 Monday through Friday, check out this year's Juneteenth exhibit, and marvel at the variety of items from the library's rich collection, ranging from nineteenth-century African-American school pioneer Jeremiah Burke Sanderson to the twentieth-century's Black Panther Party.