Pickens Black was born a slave between 1861 and 1863 in Gadsden, Alabama. His mother and father we’re the property of a white slave master with the name black, which is why his family took the surname. He moved from Alabama to Arkansas around 1875 as a teenager, in hopes of acquiring land he heard was available in the area. Black and his brother purchased 240 acres of land on an installment plan.
In 1891, they established Blacksville, Arkansas an all-black community located in Jackson County near Newport, Arkansas. Blacksville had its own schools, church, stores, mill gin, and even its own police department. Cotton was the primary economic crop in the community; however, corn, wheat, peas, and hay were also grown. During the depression, not one family in the town went hungry or had to accept government relief.
On May 9th, 1955 Pickens Black Sr. died in a Newport, Arkansas hospital after several months of illness. At his time of death, his holdings included 9,000 acres of land as well as farming equipment. Mr. Black’s life and accomplishments are a shining example of what melanated people can do when determined and focused.