This Black History Month, learn about pioneering Seattle artists

Black Arts Legacies

Every year, Black History Month brings a wealth of ways to acknowledge and celebrate African Americans of the past whose work continues to influence the present.

That’s also the aim of Crosscut’s ongoing Black Arts Legacies project — which we’re ramping up again for Season 3 this spring.

In the past two years, we’ve profiled 40 Northwest creatives who have made Seattle sing — sometimes literally, as in the case of jazz and blues singer Ernestine Anderson and grunge rocker Tina Bell.

Past Black artists like dancer Syvilla Fort, television producer Nate Long, sculptor James Washington, Jr., curator Zoe Dusanne and painter Milt Simons created a Seattle arts scene that stretched across decades and changed the whole cityscape.

That’s especially true in the case of architect Benjamin McAdoo Jr., profiled in Black Arts Legacies and the subject of a new University of Washington exhibit: Modern Architecture Activism: The Life and Work of Benjamin F. McAdoo Jr. (through March 15). The first Black architect registered in Washington state, McAdoo is known as much for his appealing mid-century designs as for his commitment to civil rights. 

If some of these names are unfamiliar, dive into Black Arts Legacies to learn more. (And this month, don’t miss our list of 13 recommended local shows featuring contemporary Black artists, including visual arts, music, dance, film and even a certain hockey logo.) Stay tuned for more Black Arts Legacies, coming soon.