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African-American community once played a large part in Butte's history

Posted at 9:20 AM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 11:25:32-05

BUTTE — Butte’s African American population is under 200 people, but at the turn of the 20th century, it hosted a much larger population.

“Historically, earlier on, we had early neighborhoods that were kind of exclusive to individuals of color throughout our history,” said Butte historian and teacher Chris Fisk.

At the time, there were two prominently black churches, social clubs and even a newspaper.

“Butte was the home of Montana’s first black-owned newspaper, individuals of color, it was called the Butte New Age. Barbs John Dunton and another guy by name of Chris Dorsey,” said Fisk.

A humble little church at Idaho and Platinum Street was built in 1901 as an AME Church and was frequented by many of Butte’s African American community by the turn of the century.

“They hosted Masonic Lodges, women’s clubs, literary socials, community dinners, you know, for all people, but African Americans, there was a place called the Pearl Club,” said Fisk.

Fisk said Butte can honor Martin Luther King Day by a day of service to your community.