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2024 Owen Wister Award

Quintard Taylor: Honoring a Trailblazer in Western History with the 2024 Owen Wister Award


The Western Writers of America (WWA) has recently announced a momentous occasion in the field of Western history and literature. The 2024 Owen Wister Lifetime Achievement Award, a prestigious recognition for significant contributions to Western heritage, has been awarded to Quintard Taylor, a luminary in the exploration and documentation of the African American experience in the American West.


A Life Dedicated to Uncovering Hidden Histories


Born in 1948 in Brownsville, Texas, Quintard Taylor's journey is a testament to dedication and scholarly excellence. His roots run deep into the American historical fabric, with a family history that intertwines with the narrative of slavery and resilience. His great-grandfather was born into slavery, and his parents' experiences in Texas shaped much of his perspective.



Taylor's academic prowess led him to the University of Minnesota, where he earned his master's and doctoral degrees. His scholarly journey culminated in his role as a professor emeritus and the Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History at the University of Washington, Seattle.


A Legacy of Insightful Works


Among Taylor's notable contributions is his book, "In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West: 1528–1990," a groundbreaking work nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. This book, alongside his editorship of "African American Women Confront the West, 1600–2000," has significantly expanded our understanding of the diverse tapestry of American history.


Pioneering Digital Access to Black History


In 2007, Taylor founded BlackPast.org, an online encyclopedia dedicated to black history. This platform, boasting 55 million users, reflects his commitment to making historical knowledge accessible and widespread, democratizing the understanding of black history in the American context and beyond.


A Richly Deserved Recognition


Max McCoy, WWA’s executive director, aptly summarized Taylor's impact: "Dr. Taylor’s work reflects the evolving and dynamic understanding of the black experience in the American West, a topic that had been long overlooked." The Owen Wister Award, named after the author of the acclaimed 1902 novel "The Virginian," is a fitting tribute to Taylor's pioneering efforts. This award places him in the esteemed company of past recipients, including Oscar-winning director John Ford, actor John Wayne, and Pulitzer-winning poet N. Scott Momaday.




Celebrating a Trailblazer


The Western Writers of America will formally honor Taylor at their annual convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from June 19–22, 2024. This event will not only celebrate Taylor's lifetime achievements but also cast a spotlight on the crucial role of diverse narratives in enriching our understanding of Western history.


Quintard Taylor's recognition with the 2024 Owen Wister Lifetime Achievement Award is a milestone in acknowledging the diverse and complex history of the American West. It celebrates a scholar who has dedicated his life to bringing to light the stories and experiences that have shaped our nation, ensuring that the contributions and struggles of African Americans in the West are given their rightful place in the annals of American history.



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