UW Today

This is an archived article.

January 12, 2006

Lessons of the past: A&S history lectures to focus on African American contributions to history

The American West was a place of greater racial diversity and complexity than depicted in most mainstream histories, with Latino influences mixing with African American, and Asian American and other cultures.


UW History Professor Quintard Taylor will provide a fresh perspective on our collective western history in “The African American West: 1528-2000,” the College of Arts and Sciences History Lecture Series. The lectures will be from 7 to 9 p.m. on five consecutive Tuesdays, Jan. 17 through Feb. 14, in 130 Kane.


Taylor’s lectures will spotlight the profound contribution of African American culture in shaping our region. In his five lectures, he will focus on African American history in forming communities, combating racism and changing social and political patterns in the development of the American West.


DVDs of the lecture series will be made available to middle schools throughout the state, provided by Macy’s stores.


The history lecture series, which began in 1975, is part of an annual program sponsored and produced by the UW Alumni Association and College of Arts and Sciences. Series prices, for all five lectures, are $60 for the general public, $50 for UW Alumni Association or College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Club members, and $20 for students. Single tickets are $5 through $15. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.UWalum.com or call 206-543-0540. For more information on the lecture series, visit online at http://www.washington.edu/alumni/learning/lectures.html.


The lectures are as follows:



  • Jan. 17: “Antebellum Slavery and Freedom, 1528-1865: The Paradox of Race and Liberty in the West.” Explore the contradiction between the carefully crafted image of freedom in the West and the reality of human bondage across much of the region.
  • Jan. 24: “To the Frontier, 1866-1900: Homesteaders, Cowboys & Buffalo Soldiers Search for Freedom in the West.” A look at post-Civil War African American western settlers and the cowboys and buffalo soldiers in the region, including Black Westerners’ encounters with Asian Americans, Native Americans and Latinos who shared dreams of success and freedom.
  •  Jan. 31: “The Urban Frontier, 1875-1940: African Americans in the Cities of the West.” Contrary to popular belief, urban settings were home to the vast majority of Blacks in early Western states. The communities these women and men created, the campaigns they waged and the troubles they endured founded the contemporary African American enclaves in all major Western cities.
  • Feb. 7: “The World War II Era, 1941-1950: Migration and Transformation.” How did the campaign for racial justice impact Westerners across the board? The World War II era quest for housing is also examined as it helped craft residential and, ultimately, social and political patterns that impact cities and suburbs to this day.
  • Feb. 14: “Into the 21st Century, 1951-2000, The Black West in the Modern Era.” What are the consequences of the struggle to eliminate racial discrimination in the 1960s and 1970s? Did the imagined “beloved community” often proclaimed by civil rights activists from Seattle to Selma ever actually emerge in the West?