SHORTER AME CHURCH
When it was first founded in 1868, the Shorter AME Church was actually known as the First Colored Methodist Church. Starting as a humble log cabin, it has grown in size and changed locations throughout the years. In 1880, the same year as the Anti-Chinese Riot, the church was relocated to a more central area and renamed Shorter AME Church. The general public fervently disapproved of the existence of a Black congregation in their community, and as a result of the condemnation and harassment, the church was forced to move several more times. Unsurprisingly, the public remained hostile and on April 9, 1925 the church was burnt down by the Ku Klux Klan. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is an American white supremacist and terrorist organization whose history includes two distinct waves of activity. The first KKK was created in Tennessee in 1866 and was not active in Colorado. A chapter was not established in the Centennial State until 1915, after the group’s second nationwide establishment. By the mid-1920s, the KKK had risen to power in Colorado, where it gained control of the state legislature, the governor’s office, the Denver mayor’s office, the Denver police department, and many members of the statewide Protestant community. The KKK did this by exploiting local ethnic divisions and prejudice with its message of “100% Americanism.” (G)
Undeterred by the rampant racism they faced, Shorter AME Church relocated to its fifth and final location on 23rd and Washington where it still stands today. Now it serves as a historical Denver landmark and a testament to the resilience of the Black community. In the 1980s the church moved to a new location north of City Park, and its building became home to Cleo Parker Robinson Dance - an ensemble celebrating its 50th year in 2020 that uses the universal language of dance to honor the African Diaspora, explore the human condition, champion social justice, unite people of all ages and races, and ultimately celebrate the complexity of life through movement. (C) (D) (E)
Chinatown Race Riots
As evidenced by the previous stops, race relations have always been fraught with unfairness and violence in Colorado.
In 1870, the Chinese American population in Denver grew to 238. Many had arrived due to their previous work on the Transcontinental Railroad, and because of the California Gold Rush. With this influx, a small Chinatown began to grow in LoDo sprouting Chinese restaurants, apothecaries, and other stores. Due to the perception that the Chinatown was a den of sin where several partook in opium, the area was unjustly named ‘Hop Alley.’ As with any influx of a minority, the Chinese Americans were met with racism and xenophobia. Race tensions continued to arise until October 31st, 1880 when a fight broke out between a few intoxicated White men and Chinese patrons at Asmussen’s Saloon. It quickly grew to become a riot, where a mob of thousands of White civilians destroyed the stores in Chinatown, and physically assaulted its residents shouting, “Stamp Out the Yellow Plague.” A 28-year old Chinese man, Look Young, was caught in the mob, beaten, and then hung from a lamp post till he died.
Chinatown residents experienced tens of thousands of dollars in property damages, but were never compensated. Neither were any instigators or perpetrators of violence charged. Afterwards, several Chinese Americans moved out of the area, and now all that remains of the historic Chinatown is a small plaque in LoDo. However,
With October 31st, 2020 being the 140th Anniversary of the riot, the
issued a proclamation that was signed by Mayor Michael B. Hancock to declare October 31st, 2020 as "Denver's Chinatown Commemoration Day". Thank you, DAAPIC, for bringing awareness to the significance of this day in history, and the resilience of those who were affected. (A) (B)
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From Yokai.com - The nue is one of the oldest yokai recorded, having its first appearance in the Kojiki (712 CE), an account of the early histories of Japan. It also appears in the Heian-period encyclopedia Wamyo Ruijusho (938 CE), and again in the Heike Monogatari (1371 CE), a record of one of Japan’s bloodiest civil wars and most tragic family clans. It has the head of a monkey, the body of a tanuki, the tail of a snake, and the limbs of a tiger. In ancient times it was thought to be a kind of nocturnal bird — it’s call is supposed to sound like that of a White’s thrush — and thus its name is written with a kanji that contains the meanings “night” and “bird.”
From Ancientpages.com - To see or encounter a Nue is considered bad omen because the creature is reputed to bring misfortune and illness. The Nue, is a legendary Japanese yokai (or mononoke), a vengeful spirit that is said to do things like possess individuals and make them suffer, cause disease, or even cause death. This yokai is believed to have started appearing in the late Heian period from 794 to 1185. (F)
Topic: Anti-Black and Anti-Chinese Racism, Burning Down of Shorter AME Church & 1880 Anti-Chinese Race Riots
Important Dates: 1880, 1868, 1925