Dr. Nelson’s multi-faceted work concerns ambition and the search for opportunity. Dr. Nelson’s dissertation, “The Significance of the Afro-Frontier™ in American History: Blackdom, Bawdyhouses, and Barratry in the Borderlands, 1900- 1930,” addresses and unpacks foundational issues in African American history, the history of the U.S. West, borderlands history, and the history of African diasporas. Dr. Nelson created his own school of thought and coined the term Afro-Frontier™ (along with Afro-Frontierism™ and Afro-Frontierist™), changing how the history of Blackdom, New Mexico has been framed.
Instead of a story of a failed township made up of black people fleeing racial violence, lynching, and second-class citizenship, he found that the Blackdomites left the South to seek out opportunities and freedom in the creation of “autonomous Black communities.” 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. Through his 2015 dissertation as well as his current outreach, Dr. Nelson’s goal is uncovering and advocating for untold stories through various forms of art; academic books, trade books, screenplays, painting, photography, videography, and digitally applying his theory of colonization within the digital frontier. Dr. Nelson lives in Santa Fe, NM.