The interview I wanted to feature this week is Dr. George Junne, professor of Africana studies at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. He was gracious enough to spend ample time telling me the story of “Mrs. Clara Brown”, as he might say. Dr. Junne prefers the courtesy title of “Mrs.” over the more familiar term “aunt”, which is generally viewed as a compliement in Clara’s case, but it could be seen as derogatory in other contexts. That was an education for me.
Not only that, Dr. Junne pointed out that several other African Americans had also made significant contributions to Colorado. These were people such as Barney Ford, who was also an ex-slave who made a forturne in Colorado. Ford was a civil rights pioneer as well and hepled ensure that African Americans had the right to vote in Colorado before it became a state in 1876. Barney Ford and Clara Brown were friends and both are honored with a stained glass in the Colorado State Capitol.
Dr. Junne is the author of Blacks in the American West and Beyond—America, Canada, and Mexico: A Selectively Annotated Bibliography (2000) and The History of Blacks in Canada: A Selectively Annotated Bibliography (2003). In addition, he has four fossils named after him! Maybe he’ll be the subject of a documentary one day.