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UW Student’s Exhibition at Coe Library Celebrates Black History Month

February 8, 2017

A traveling exhibition, titled “Empire: A Community of African Americans on the Wyoming Plains,” is on display at the University of Wyoming’s Coe Library through Friday, March 3, in honor of Black History Month.

UW graduate student Robert Galbreath created the display during his summer internship with the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office. Galbreath currently is completing his master’s degree in American Studies at UW.

The exhibition focuses on a group of African-Americans who settled in the Cowboy State in 1908 and built a homesteading community named Empire, in eastern Wyoming near the Nebraska border.

Empire was a haven from the racism and racial violence that was part of American life in the early 20th century. The movement of this group paralleled that of other African-American groups leaving the south to seek new opportunities. For nearly a decade, Empire flourished until it disappeared from Wyoming culture in the early 1920s.

“Empire” displays the few photographs of settlers, advertisements from local newspapers and historic articles that remain from the town. The exhibition is on display on the main floor of Coe Library throughout February. The exhibition is sponsored by UW Libraries, the American Studies Program and the African American and Diaspora Studies Program.

Also in conjunction with Black History Month, Academy Award-nominated films will be shown. All films will be presented in the Wyoming Union Family Room at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Scheduled are “Birth of a Nation” Monday, Feb. 13, and “Moonlight” Friday, March 3.

For more information, call Tracey Patton, African American and Diaspora Studies director, at (307) 766-3857 or email

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