Settling on the High Plains of Kansas was a tremendous act of faith. It required faith that rain would fall, crops would grow, and animals would survive. For many, their spirituality became a rock upon which they sustained themselves. Watch this film to learn more about Nicodemus and its rich tradition of faith.
Nicodemus Kansas sits in the heart of America’s bread basket. Its settlers were freed slaves who carved the prairie into farmland and a community of their own. A pie baked from scratch and a fried fish dinner pulled straight from the river, both help tell the story of who you are on the plains of Nicodemus, Kansas. Over the next month, Nicodemus National Historic Site invites you to join us as we celebrate the rich culture, land and history of America’s longest remaining black-founded town, west of the Mississippi.
The settlers of Nicodemus laid down brick and mortar, hand crafting a community brimming with new opportunity. A spirit of entrepreneurship, a desire for ownership and enduring faith all crossed paths in Nicodemus, Kansas, leaving a legacy of pride many carry with them today.
Nicodemus National Historic Site remains a living history lesson on black survival in America. Those who settled here showed an uncommon will to grasp freedom against all odds. Freedom from slavery. Freedom from oppression. Freedom to live, work, play, pray, grow, and thrive. It's that uncommon will that we celebrate still.
Sunni Patterson shares the story of Nicodemus, Kansas and the freed African Americans who settled there. Violence and Jim Crow Laws in the south motivated five families to move west. Over time, Nicodemus would become part of the larger migration story known as the "Exodusters." Today, the ancestors of these five families still live in this town that was founded in 1877.
The promise of freedom sustained those who came to Nicodemus, Kansas. “Building life out of rock solid faith,” the “black gem of the frontier” would offer the formerly enslaved a chance to build a home of their own in the United States. Check out this behind the scenes look at poet Sunni Patterson’s spoken word performance of “O Nicodemus.” There is no audio description as the video consists of a single reader in front of a black background.