John W. Ravage

Independent Historian

Dr. John W. Ravage is Professor Emeritus of Mass Communication at the University of Wyoming, where he also taught as an adjunct professor of African American Studies. His background is in television and film history, writing, production and direction, as well. He has produced books, academic and popular journal articles and television documentaries on the black experience in the Trans-Mississippi West, including Alaska, Canada and Hawaii. His collection of over three thousand photographic images of blacks in the West ranks as one of the larger private libraries in the country. He has served as consultant/writer for groups such as Bill Miles, Educational Films and WTBS Superstation and has written for History of Photography, in England. Ravage serves as consultant to the Eiteljorg Museum of the American West, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Seattle Museum of History and Industry and the Smithsonian Institution on the African-American West and the works of James Presley Ball, a renowned African American photographer of the West. His books include: Television: The Director’s Viewpoint (Boulder: West View Press, 1978), Singletree, a novel of the black experience in the West (Jelm Mountain, 1990), Kenneth Wiggins Porter’s The Negro On The American Frontier (Editor, 2ND. ed., Ames Publishers, 1996), and Black Pioneers, Images Of The Black Experience On The American Frontier (University of Utah Press, 1997, 2002). A member of the Western Writers of America, he is available for lectures on The Black West.

Juan Francisco Reyes Reyes (c. 1749 – c. 1800)

California’s 18th Century history is imbedded with that of settlers from many racial and cultural groups. Terms such as mestizos, mulattos, espanoles, lobos and coyotes indicated a variety of Indian, Spanish, and Mexican, white and black families who migrated into the area in the 18th … Read MoreJuan Francisco Reyes Reyes (c. 1749 – c. 1800)

Oscar Micheaux (1884–1951)

Oscar Micheaux was the quintessential self-made man.  Novelist, film-maker and relentless self-promoter, Micheaux was born on a farm near Murphysboro, Illinois.  He worked briefly as a Pullman porter and then in 1904 homesteaded nearly 500 acres of land near the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in … Read MoreOscar Micheaux (1884–1951)

Lincoln Motion Picture Company

African American audiences were generally ignored by the major motion picture studios in the first two decades of the 20th Century. Nonetheless, demand for films aimed at black theaters in both the South and larger Northern cities prompted the formation of several “black” motion picture … Read MoreLincoln Motion Picture Company

Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew [“Stepin Fetchit”] Perry (1902-1985)

Image Ownership: Public Domain Reviled by Langston Hughes and many others for his film and stage portrayals of black characters as “lazy, shuffling, no-account Negroes,” Perry transformed himself from a minor-league minstrel clown into one of the most highly-paid black actors in Hollywood, California history … Read MoreLincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew [“Stepin Fetchit”] Perry (1902-1985)

Mary Fields (1832-1914)

Born enslaved in Tennessee, this girl came west with Ursuline nuns after being freed. Not known for her quiet temperament, she left the convent in her teens and became, in time, a restaurant owner in several towns in Montana, Wyoming and Alberta and Saskatachewan, Canada, … Read MoreMary Fields (1832-1914)

James Pierson Beckwourth (c. 1805 – 1866)

If any man of any color attained the ranks of legendary in the American West, it was James Beckwourth (also: Beckwith, Beckwoth). If any attest to his fame is necessary, one only needs to read the description under the accompanying lithograph and note that even … Read MoreJames Pierson Beckwourth (c. 1805 – 1866)