I Have Heard of a Land, by Joyce Carol Thomas ISBN 0060234776
Five out of five stars
The massive land grab that was the Oklahoma Land Rush in 1889 is mentioned in the history books. An estimated 50,000 people lined up to grab their piece of real estate. Some of the people cheated and crossed the demarcation line earlier than the designated start time of high noon on April 12, 1889. Their actions are remembered in the term “Sooners.”
What is largely ignored in the study of history is the significance of the Oklahoma Land Rush in Black History as well as the rights of women. Suffering under the oppression of white supremacists in the south, many blacks participated in the land rush, their claims were given equal standing. Rather than struggle as a sharecropper, they were assigned up to 160 acres of land of their own to work.
Another significant characteristic of the Oklahoma Land Rush is that single women could own land in their own name. Since this included black women, the rarity and uniqueness of the event should be a point of greater historical emphasis.
This book describes a few black families and single persons that derived a great deal of hope from the opportunity to claim a parcel of land. Entire black communities sprang up overnight. Even though life was hard, everything had to be built from scratch, the desire to be a free landowner under the Homestead Act made it all worthwhile. It is a great book for children to learn a key point of Black History.