BlackPast.org has a number of features of value to students, senior scholars, researchers, and the curious public. They include an online encyclopedia of more than 5,000 original entries on significant but little know people and events written by 500 volunteer contributors from six continents. These entries describe the people, places, institutions, events, and episodes which have and continue to shape African American history. Many of the entries are about well-known individuals such as Harriet Tubman and W.E.B. Du Bois. BlackPast.org however is unique among African American history websites in that it also profiles little known but significant individuals and organizations. In Washington state, for example, the Christian Friends for Racial Equality, pioneer settler George Bush, and world renowned science fiction writer Octavia Butler, are all described on BlackPast.org.
The website also features the complete transcript of over 200 speeches given by prominent African Americans between 1789 and 2011, over 120 full text primary documents including court decisions, laws, government reports and executive orders. Its five bibliographies list more than 5,000 books and its six gateway pages link to 50 digital archive collections in major universities, 120 museums and research centers, and nearly 500 other website resources in African American history. Its timelines are recognized as the best on African American history on the Internet. This vast and growing array of information is maintained by a staff of dedicated volunteers in Seattle and across the United States.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
The success of BlackPast.org can be best measured by the number of people who use the website. It averages more than 250,000 users per month. In April 2012 the website crossed the 10 million mark in life-of-site visitors since its launch on February 1, 2007. BlackPast.org has received awards from the Association of King County (Washington) Historical Organizations (AKCHO) as well as honors from the American Library Association and the New York Public Library. Janice Graham, the host of the Boston-based nationally syndicated radio show, Our Common Ground, recently recommended BlackPast.org to her listening audience by describing it as "a virtual treasure of our history and past as a people." The comment from an unnamed sixth grader, however, captures the essence of the BlackPast.org mission when she wrote "Thanks SOOOO much for making this website! I had this speech about key historical events and politics for the United States 1913-present day and I found your website. It was a huge help...THNX!!"