Cassandra Boydston

Student Historian

Cassandra Boydston considers music and studying history to be her lifelong passions and vocations.  She has combined the two while writing articles for Blackpast.org.  Cassandra has been studying history at the University of Washington since 1999 while simultaneously working as a computer programmer.  She hopes to be able to devote herself to studying and writing about history full time after graduation.

Paulette Shange Ntozake Williams (1948- )

The author, poet, and playwright Paulette Williams was born on October 18, 1948 in Trenton, New Jersey.  Until she was eight, she lived in a racially diverse community among well educated upper middle class black and white families.  She socialized with prominent musicians and performers such as Dizzy Gillespie, Chuck Berry, Charlie Parker, Miles … Read MorePaulette Shange Ntozake Williams (1948- )

Aretha Franklin (1942-2018)

In her five decades as a recording artist, Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul,” became a music legend. Aretha Louise Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee on March 25, 1942. Her family soon relocated to Detroit, Michigan, where her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, became a minister at New Bethel Baptist Church. Rev. Franklin … Read MoreAretha Franklin (1942-2018)

Sarah Vaughan (1924-1990)

Image Ownership: Public Domain Sarah Louise Vaughan was born in 1924 in Newark, New Jersey.  Both of her parents were amateur musicians and they provided their daughter piano lessons as a child as well as a solid background in vocals, as a member of her … Read MoreSarah Vaughan (1924-1990)

Coleman Hawkins (1904-1969)

Coleman Hawkins with Miles Davis Image Ownership: Public Domain Coleman Randolph Hawkins was born November 21, 1904, in Saint Joseph, Missouri.  He began his musical education early with lessons on both the piano and cello.  Despite parental encouragement towards more classic instruments, Hawkins focused on … Read MoreColeman Hawkins (1904-1969)

Carolynne Snowden (1900-1985)

Caroline Snowden (she later changed her first name to Carolynne), known as “California’s Josephine Baker,” was born on January 16th, 1900, in Oakland, California.  From an early age, Snowden knew that she wanted to be a performer and, despite the lack of opportunities for African … Read MoreCarolynne Snowden (1900-1985)

The Creole Palace (San Diego)

Image Courtesy of the San Diego Historical Soceity The hallmarks of the “Roaring ‘20s” are legendary in American history: dashing and daring men and women, illegal alcohol, flamboyant entertainers, and the music inspired by the post-war, prohibition era frenzy:  jazz.  While the hot spots in … Read MoreThe Creole Palace (San Diego)

Eubie Blake (1883-1983)

Eubie Blake was born James Hubert Blake in Baltimore, Maryland, on February 7, 1883.   He died one hundred years later on February 12, 1983 having become one of the most important figures in early 20th-century African American music and a major contributor to ragtime and … Read MoreEubie Blake (1883-1983)

Alphonse Trent Orchestra

Jazz arose in 19th century America from music brought from West Africa by slaves.  It is therefore not surprising that the many of the most successful jazz musicians come from the African American communities in the South.  While there is a common belief that Jazz … Read MoreAlphonse Trent Orchestra