[ONLINE] - Caleb J. Gayle, We Refuse to Forget: A True Story of Black Creeks, American Identity, and Power


In We Refuse to Forget, award-winning journalist Caleb J. Gayle, 2021 New Arizona Fellow, tells the extraordinary story of the Creek Nation, a Native tribe that two centuries ago both owned slaves and accepted Black people as full citizens. Thanks to the efforts of Creek leaders like Cow Tom, a Black Creek citizen who rose to become chief, the U.S. government recognized Creek citizenship in 1866 for its Black members. Yet this equality was shredded in the 1970s when tribal leaders revoked the citizenship of Black Creeks, even those who could trace their history back generations—even to Cow Tom himself.

Why did this happen? How was the U.S. government involved? And what are Cow Tom’s descendants and other Black Creeks doing to regain their citizenship? These are some of the questions that Gayle explores in this provocative examination of racial and ethnic identity. By delving into the history and interviewing Black Creeks who are fighting to have their citizenship reinstated, he lays bare the racism and greed at the heart of this story. We Refuse to Forget is an eye-opening account that challenges our preconceptions of identity as it shines new light on the long shadows of white supremacy and marginalization that continue to hamper progress for Black Americans.

Join the New America Fellows Program for a conversation with Caleb J. Gayle and 2017 Fellow and Pulitzer Prize winner Marcia Chatelain for a conversation about We Refuse to Forget.

Follow the conversation online using #RefusetoForget and follow us at @NAFellows.


Caleb J. Gayle,
2021 New Arizona Fellow, New America
Author, We Refuse to Forget: A True Story of Black Creeks, American Identity, and Power

Marcia Chatelain, @DrMChatelain
2017 Eric & Wendy Schmidt Fellow, New America
Author, Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America

Copies of We Refuse to Forget are available for purchase here through our bookselling partner Solid State Books.