The Pikes Peak Library District is releasing the latest installment in its Regional History book series, an updated version of "Invisible People of the Pikes Peak Region" by John Stokes Holley, that chronicles key Black figures in the area's history.
The March 11 release will be a virtual event hosted by the library district and its Special Collections team led by the book’s co-editors, Heather Jordan and Takiyah Jemison.
At 478 pages, the new volume is more than twice the size of the 1990 original. It contains all the original text of Holley’s book, plus an index, additional photographs, new chapters, and more.
Jemison and Jordan wanted to create a reprint of Holley’s book to make it more available to the public because there were only a handful of copies at the public library and the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.
But as they got caught up in the process, the volume began to grow.
“We originally just wanted to do a reprint of the original, so that the public could have access to it,” Jordan said. “But as we started printing it, we thought maybe we should add some updated content as well.”
During his tenure as executive director of the region’s Urban League, Holley could not find any books or reading materials that chronicled an African American presence in the area, so he decided to write one himself.
The process was an arduous one, Jemison said, largely because of a severe lack of source material.
With the help of the Negro Historical Association, the Pioneers’ Museum and the Pikes Peak Library District, Holley assembled a sweeping narrative that includes El Paso County’s first Black juror (ex-slave William Seymour), its first Black judge (Jim Franklin) and a host of stories in between.
“Without these stories, much of the history of the region would have been lost,” the book’s foreword reads.
Among the new material are oral histories of Vera Gang Scott, the first Black principal in Colorado Springs, and Colorado College athletic trainer Roosevelt Collins, who was, as Jemison put it, “the first Black employee at the college who was not a janitor.”
“I think people want to know these stories,” Jordan said. "They’re just hard to find.”
“(Holley) named the book 'Invisible People' because those stories weren’t being told,” said Jemison, whose second cousin, Mae Jemison, is the country’s first Black female astronaut. “We want to continue his legacy and bring it forward, so these ‘invisible people’ become visible in the history of Colorado Springs.”
"Invisible People of the Pikes Peak Region" will be available for purchase on Amazon and for checkout or purchase at the local library.
The release event will feature presentations from two Colorado Springs natives -- senior adult services librarian Melissa Mitchell and Sharon Tunson, who is mentioned in Holley’s book.
To learn more, or to register for the event, go to ppld.librarymarket.com/invisible-people-pikes-peak-region-book-release.