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Denver history from a Black perspective


Dr. Justina Laurena Ford tended to the needs of Denver’s African-American community at a time when there were no female physicians, and health care for minorities was nearly non existent. Dr. Ford was a Black, female doctor, which is notable since the year was 1930. She tirelessly worked as physician to the downtrodden although she had initially been denied a medical license; treating obstetrics patients and those with other illnesses. Dr. Ford delivered - by her own count - over 7,000 babies. Her husband was the Rev. Dr. John Elijah Ford, a minister at the historic Zion Baptist Church, nestled in the heart of the Black community. Her former home is now the fitting location of the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center.

Photo courtesy of the The Black American West Museum

The Black American West Museum is the premier source for information about Dr. Ford as well as other African-American pioneers in the city. Here, one can get information about Barney Launcelot Ford, another Black community leader. Barney Ford was born in South Carolina in 1822, and came to Colorado years later to stake his claim in the gold fields of Summit County. He was recognized as a leader in Denver, named to the 1898 Social Register, becoming the only minority bestowed the honor at that time. He built restaurants and hotels, and a stained glass window at the Colorado Statehouse secures his immortality in this city.

Photo courtesy of the The Black American West Museum

 The museum provides a wealth of information about the early African-American community in Denver and the surroundings areas of Colorado.  The trials and tribulations of early Black residents are preserved in the exhibits, literature, and photographs.  The information is without peer, the photos in particular. Numerous pictures of Denver’s early days, seen through the eyes of Black citizens, are on display, and the knowlegeable staff helps to give voice to those long gone from our consciousness. There are photos of Deerfield, CO, a pioneer farming community founded in 1910 by O.T. Jackson, built by and for Blacks, located on highway 34 between Greeley and Ft. Morgan. Deerfield is now a ghost town, but it won’t be forgotten, due to the efforts of the Black American West Museum. Rodeo has always been a mainstay in Colorado, and Blacks have been involved in the sport from inception.  The museum chronicles the journey from cowhand to bronc rider for Black rodeo stars. Bill Pickett will always be revered as a member of the rodeo community, and not because he was Black.  The museum gives testimony to his achievements.  Drop in and ask Paul W. Stewart, the founder of the Black American West Museum, about Mr. Pickett.  He is there to inform and enthrall.

There is so much to see and learn in the Black American West Museum, and Denver natives as well as tourists, owe themselves an unforgettable trip to one of the best African-American historical museums in the country. 

For more information: Visit the Black American West Museum website.


3091 California Street, Denver, Colorado, 80205


Summer Hours (June 1 - August 31): Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00AM - 5:00PM
Winter Hours (September 1 - May 30): Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00AM - 2:00PM
Closed New Years, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The museum also closes for special events, so call to confirm hours.


Adults - $8.00
Seniors - $7.00 (65 and over)
Children - $6.00 (12 and under)


(303) 482-2242