Dr. Timothy E. Nelson was born in South Central Los Angeles and raised in Compton California during the early 1990s and went to Santa Monica Community College in the wake of race and class-based conflict with the Los Angeles Police Department. After graduating from Compton High School, he played football at Compton and Santa Monica Junior Colleges before transferring to play at New Mexico State University where he was awarded a scholarship. He graduated from New Mexico State University with a Bachelor’s degree in U.S. History. During his time earning a Master’s degree in black history at the University of Northern Iowa, he also earned a commission as an Officer in the U.S. Army. Dr. Nelson earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at El Paso. He was the Racial Justice Director at the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region—the largest YWCA in the United States. He is also a proud charter member of his chapter of Phi Beta Sigma, Inc.
Dr. Nelson successfully defended his dissertation, “THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE AFRO-FRONTIER IN AMERICAN HISTORY: BLACKDOM, BAWDYHOUSES, AND BARRATRY IN THE BORDERLANDS, 1900-1930.” Dr. Nelson’s dissertation tackled foundational issues in African American history, the history of the U.S. West, borderlands history, and the history of African diasporas. Set in the context U.S. segregation, Black people, according to Dr. Nelson, did not simply flee racial violence, lynching and second-class citizenship, they left the South (and the racist mid-west) to seek out opportunities and freedom in the creation of “autonomous black communities” in places such as Blackdom, New Mexico near present-day Roswell, New Mexico. Following their economic and social AMBITIONS, black people sought out literal and figurative spaces of freedom that afforded them the opportunity to develop their skills, aspirations, and dreams. But more than a community history, Dr. Nelson situated that history in the context of African diasporic across the Western hemisphere. Moreover, the black community that established Compton is tied to many of the westward migrations that emerged from the diasporic migrations Dr. Nelson discusses in his dissertation. The themes it engages are racism, ambition, the search for an opportunity which resonates with us today thus. The relevancy is proven by the recent attention Dr. Nelson’s screenplay (Chapter 4, The Mattie Moore of Blackdom and Mittie Moore of Roswell).