Blackpast.org (www.blackpast.org) is the largest web-based free content reference center currently on the Internet that is dedicated primarily to the understanding of African American history and the history of people of African ancestry. The website’s most popular feature is an online encyclopedia which includes nearly 4,000 entries which describe people, places, and events in African American and global African history. Most of this encyclopedia content has been generated by nearly 500 volunteer contributors on four continents. That content is editorially reviewed and, if suitable, placed on the website. BlackPast.org grows daily as new entries are regularly contributed to the website and new features are added.
The Storming of Fort Wagner, July 11, 1863
Other popular features include the transcript of nearly 200 speeches and over 100 primary documents including court decisions, laws, organizational statements, government reports, and executive orders impacting people of African ancestry around the world. Nine major timelines provide a chronology of events from 5,000 BCE to the present while five major bibliographies list nearly 4,000 books categorized by author, title, subject, and date of publication. There are also six “gateway” pages with links to digital archive collections, museums, and research centers, genealogical research websites, and over 500 other website resources on African American and global African history. Those links include all of the major black newspapers in the United States as well as the most significant newspapers and magazines in Africa and leading periodicals devoted to people of African ancestry in the Caribbean, Europe, and Latin America.
A section called Perspectives Magazine presents commentary on important but little known events in black history often written by individuals who participated in or witnessed them. Other special features include Black History Month which provides information on the annual celebration of African American history and culture, The Barack Obama Page which is a reference center for information related to the 44th President of the United States, and Major Black Officeholders since 1641 which lists hundreds of black officeholders since the the American colonial era. This list includes all past and current African American members of the U.S. Congress as well as other officeholders and political appointees.
BlackPast.org was launched in Seattle, Washington on February 1, 2007 by Quintard Taylor, a University of Washington Professor of History, and a staff of volunteers. The website is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt corporation supported mainly by grants and donations. BlackPast.org’s operating technology is Drupal-based and the website has a global audience of about two million visitors per year from over 100 nations. In 2009, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Brazil, and Germany ranked as the top five countries in visitors after the United States.