The Journalistic Record Project 2020-21
Madera was founded and first populated by whites. The first recorded African-American resident of Madera was Dexter Hunt, a 31-year-old porter who worked for Captain Russel Perry Mace in his hotel. He arrived here in 1880.
For the next 20 years, Madera continued to grow, from 217 residents in 1880 to 2,500 in 1900. By comparison, the African-American population of Madera grew from that single individual in 1880 to 42 in 1900. For the next two decades of the 20th century, the influx of black residents to Madera remained at a trickle, until the Great Western Migration of the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s. That’s when the direction of black migration changed from North to West, and that’s when the foundation for Madera’s African-
American community was formed.
Research into Madera’s African-American community reveals three distinct patterns in the lives of the town’s black residents. The years from 1900 to 1940 can be described as the “Jim Crow” stage. Although Madera managed to avoid the lynchings that swept the South, a Jim Crow mentality did exist here.