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BlackPast is the largest web-based reference center dedicated to African American and global African history to date. This project first appeared in January 2004 as the enhanced faculty website of Dr. Quintard Taylor at the University of Washington. The initial website was intended primarily as a research aid for his UW students. Designed by his teaching assistant, George Tamblyn, it featured brief profiles of approximately 100 significant people, places, and events in African American history. In December 2004, Taylor’s daughter, Jamila Taylor, redesigned the site to incorporate a new architecture and improved navigation features. In Spring 2005, Taylor received an email from a New Zealand high school student who had accessed the site. This was followed in the early summer by correspondence from Russian students who had viewed the site and led to a U.S. State Department-sponsored tour of Russian universities by Taylor in September 2005.
By 2005 it became evident that the faculty site was being used far beyond the UW campus leading Taylor to create an independent website dedicated exclusively to promoting African American history. That website, BlackPast.org, www.blackpast.org, was launched on February 1, 2007. The new site included entries on far more people, places events, and episodes that shaped African American and global African history. Over time additional features were added including bibliographies, timelines, major speeches, and digital archives. In its first year BlackPast.org (according to Google) had 199,645 visitors. In 2019, it had 4,264,222 visitors.
BlackPast.org is a crowd-sourced website. Its content contributors comprise professional historians and scholars, college and university undergraduate and graduate students, and history enthusiasts who share a passion for writing histories on the African diaspora. To date more than 830 volunteer content contributors from six continents have written for this online resource.
In 2009, the organization was selected by the New York Public Library reference librarians as one of the top 25 hybrid print and electronic resources and the following year it was selected by the Library of Congress as a permanent part of its web archiving project. Since then other awards have come including the 2015 Carter G. Woodson Memorial Award jointly from the National Education Association (NEA) and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). BlackPast, as it is now officially known, has nearly 6,000 entries and articles on African American and global African history. These posts span the world from the Arctic to Antarctica and from the beginning of human history to today. Our audience is global as well. So far in 2020 visitors from more than 200 nations have used the resources of BlackPast. Yet from its founding in 2007 to today, BlackPast remains committed to providing accurate and reliable information on the history of more than one billion people of African descent in the world today. Through this knowledge we aim to promote greater understanding to promote social justice both within the United States and around the world.