By the time Arizona became a state ninety-nine years ago, African Americans had been living in Tucson since 1855. Schools were integrated in Arizona's Territory days, and African Americans filled needed niches as homesteaders, cowboys and railroad workers.
Things changed when Arizona became a state, however. Tucsonan Cressworth Lander’s family homesteaded at what is now the corner of Speedway and Pantano, and saw the change unfold. One key difference, says Lander, was segregation.
In 1910, over 2300 students were enrolled in the Tucson Unified School District, and of those 41 were African Americans. Statehood meant that suddenly, only two years later, those few Black students found themselves forced to attend separate schools.