African Americans have been part of the Vallejo mosaic since 1850, the year of the North Bay city’s birth. John Grider, a Tennessee native and former slave who arrived in Vallejo in 1850, was one of the city’s earliest residents and a veteran of the California Bear Flag Revolt of 1846. While many 19th-century black pioneers established homes, businesses, and schools, it was during the Great Migration period of 1910–1970s that the bulk of Vallejo’s black community took firm root. During this period, black folks from throughout the Southtiny towns and big cities alike, from places like Itasca, Texas; Heidelberg, Mississippi; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Lake Wales, Floridamade their way west searching for war-industry jobs at Mare Island Naval Shipyard and lives relatively free of unrelenting racial discord. African Americans in Vallejo chronicles this proud and oftentimes complicated journey.
About the Author
Sharon McGriff-Payne is a lifelong resident of Vallejo and a child of the Great Migration. McGriff-Payne’s parents came to California in the 1940s via Lake Wales, Florida. Her previous work, John Grider’s CenturyAfrican Americans in Solano, Napa, and Sonoma Counties from 1845 to 1925, explored early black pioneers who settled in Northern California, leading the way for all those African Americans who would follow in the 20th century.