Tag Archives: Teviston

The naming of Teviston

Lloyd Tevis
­once owned more land
than he could ride across
in a day’s time.
He fought Miller & Lux
for the water of the Kern River
way back before it became
a channel of dry sand.

In 1961 I pulled off 99
into Teviston
as a storm ended
and the dark sky opened
to let the setting sun shine
upon the shacks of Black Okies.

Teviston was lit up
puddles reflecting day’s last light.
The homes
pieced together from scrap wood
glowed intensely.

How would Lloyd Tevis
have calculated the value
of this one and only memorial
to his great wealth?
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The Beavers: a Teviston success story

Teviston slideshow: a Black Okie Community

I produced this narrated slideshow on Teviston—one of California’s Black Okie Communities—for the Framing Migrant Labor exhibit at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Agrella Gallery. My photos of the Wilson family are part of an exhibit that features Matt Black’s work, along with photos by Otto Hagel and Morrie Camhi.

Black Okie History

The West of the West Center has produced Black Okies, a documentary on the history of Teviston directed by Joel Pickford. You can view this film by going to this site:
https://vimeo.com/user25968631/blackokies  Enter the password (case sensitive): Bokies0415

Michael Essinger is a doctoral student at UC Merced who is studying the forgotten history of  African-American communities up and down the Central Valley. You can view or download his papers at this site:
Black Okie History

Mark Arax, Director of the West of the West Center, wrote several articles on Teviston in 2002 when he was a reporter for the LA Times. These are available at:
http://articles.latimes.com/2002/aug/25/local/me-blackokies1
http://articles.latimes.com/2002/aug/26/local/me-blackokies2
http://articles.latimes.com/2002/aug/26/local/me-okieside26
http://articles.latimes.com/2002/aug/27/local/me-blackokies3

Mark speaks of the migration to rural California and some of the people he found in Teviston in this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LPBEb5PXBk&feature=youtu.be

Acres of Aspiration by Hannibal Johnson documents the all Black towns established in Oklahoma from the 1890s to the 1920s. They attracted independent, hard-working families from the deep South. This helps explain the strength of the younger generation that moved to California in the 50s to found Teviston and other primarily Black communities in California. One can order from Alibris.com.

Revisiting Black Okie Communities

In the 60s I discovered a number of African-American towns in the San Joaquin Valley, later dubbed Black Okie communities by author Mark Arax. These towns are a little known part of California history, which my photographs and radio shows documented for the first time. In the Spring and Summer of 2015 I revisited South Dos Palos (on the west side of Merced County) and Teviston (on Hwy 99 in Tulare County). To my surprise I found several families of the kids I’d photographed. I was able to photograph them at church and at family reunions in both towns.

I’ll be uploading galleries of photographs from the 60s and the present day, as well as links to articles and academic research on this forgotten side of California history.