We selected the excerpt from Creating the Black Utopia of Buxton, Iowa in hopes that students could use their creativity and produce an entry by doing little—and possibly no—additional research because we don’t want term papers or book reports. However, students are welcome to perform additional research if they wish.
Where to Start
Read the excerpt and think about what life was like for both Black and white people in Buxton and beyond. For example:
- What was life like for Black people outside of Buxton?
- How would a Black person who experienced Jim Crow, racism and discrimination all their lives, feel upon arriving and living in Buxton?
- How would they adjust?
- Would they be changed by the experience in some way?
- Conversely, what was life like for a white person living outside of Buxton who’d grown up with racist ideas and experiences Black people being treated equally to them for the first time?
- How was Buxton different for them?
- How would they adjust?
- Would they be changed in some way?
- What would that first interaction of people with different experiences look like?
- If a person of either race was distrustful, how would they overcome that distrust?
- Are there lessons we can learn from Buxton—and apply today?
- Are there any parallels between Buxton, the time period, and current events today?
These are just a few examples. There are many more questions you could ask yourself. The point is: (1) get a feel for what it was really like for people in 1905 in Buxton and beyond, (2) think about the answers to questions like the above and others that come to mind that you might want to use in your entry, and (3) decide on the message you want those who watch your video to walk away with—the effects of racism? feelings of hope? the possibility or impossibility of unity? the significance of Buxton today? Or …?
Once you have an idea of what life was like in Buxton and what message you want viewers to take away after watching your video, if you can’t think of what to do for your entry, here are some ideas that might spark your creativity:
- write and read a fictional story
- create and perform spoken word poetry or a dramatic monologue
- write a script for a short scene and act it out
- write and perform a song
- create and perform a dance routine, set it to original or royalty-free music, and add your excerpt-related voice-over
- do whatever you like doing—hanging out with friends, putting on make-up, watching tv—and creatively incorporate the facts from the excerpt into that and create a video
- create a piece of art, such as a collage of photos, comic strip, drawing, painting, word art, etc. that visually brings the excerpt to life and share and discuss it on video
While we don’t want entries that read like book reports or term papers, if you want additional information on topics mentioned in the excerpt, the following are a few resources.
Videos About Buxton
- Rachelle Chase presentation on Buxton, from its beginning to its end, at William Penn University. (2019, 60 minutes)
- PBS Documentary on Buxton: “Searching for Buxton” (2011, 30 minutes)
Books About Buxton
The following are books written about Buxton. If they are not available in your library or you do not want to purchase them, the “look inside” feature provides a decent amount of information:
- Creating the Black Utopia of Buxton, Iowa by Rachelle Chase
- Lost Buxton by Rachelle Chase
- Buxton: A Black Utopia in the Heartland by Dorothy Schwieder, Joseph Hraba, and Elmer Schwieder
- Exploring Buried Buxton: Archaeology of an Abandoned Iowa Coal Mining Town with a Large Black Population by David Gradwohl and Nancy M. Osborn.
If you are planning to create artwork for your entry and would like to include/use photos of Buxton, we have images that you can use. Visit our Buxton Photos page.
Other Interesting Information on Buxton
There are many great scholarly articles written about Buxton. There are also a lot of online pages devoted to Buxton’s history, some very informative and some with conflicting information. We don’t want to overwhelm you with information. But here are a few that provide a personal perspective of Buxton.
Minnie B. London Memoir
Minnie B. London was an African American teacher who later become a principal in Buxton. She was well-known and well-respected by people of both races. In 1940, she wrote about her life in Buxton in a piece titled “As I Remember.”
Rachelle Chase’s LostBuxton.com
Time permitting, Rachelle Chase writes about interesting things and people she’s discovered about Buxton that didn’t make it into her books at LostBuxton.com.
Hazel Nylander Memoir
Hazel Nylander lived in Eveland, a mining camp nearly two miles from Buxton, before moving there. She wrote a memoir piece titled, “Buxton Was Not Really a Tough Town“, in 1970. This was provided to us by Janine Havener.
Outsiders viewed Buxton as a rough town and some Iowa newspapers ran sensationalized stories about the crime in Buxton. Many residents, however, felt this was not true. On page 4, Ms. Nylander’s statements about murders in Buxton differ from research performed by Dorothy Schwieder and her team and mentioned in the book above. They researched sheriff’s records in Albia and found that Buxton’s crime was no worse than any other town of the same size.
Gordon Peterson’s BuxtonIowa.com
Information about Jim Crow
Jim Crow was a fact of life for African Americans during the time of Buxton. Dr. David Pilgrim’s work contains excellent information on the subject. Dr. Pilgrim established the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia in Grand Rapids, Michigan using the 15,000+ images and products he had acquired over the years. He’s written two books about Jim Crow and provides a comprehensive summary of what it means and what life was like for African Americans in “What was Jim Crow.” The museum’s website has a lot of additional information, including a virtual museum tour.
While you must create your video, that doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone! If you still can think of an idea for your entry, share the contest information with a family member, friend, teacher, or anyone else who’s opinion you value and ask them for ideas.
While we can’t give you advice on what to create, we are here to answer any questions you might have on the contest. Visit the Contact page to drop us a note.