Historian Quintard Taylor was born on December 11, 1948 in Brownsville, Tennessee to Quintard Taylor and Grace Taylor. He graduated from Carver High School in Brownsville, Tennessee and received his B.A. degree in American history in 1969 from St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina, and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in American history from the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis in 1971 and 1977, respectively.
In 1971, Taylor served as assistant professor of black studies at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. After he received his Ph.D. degree, Taylor was named professor of history at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California, where he taught courses on African American history, African history, U.S. history, and served in department leadership roles for thirteen years from 1977 to 1990. In 1987, Taylor was the visiting Fulbright-Hays Professor of History at University of Lagos in Lagos, Nigeria. In 1990, Taylor authored his first book, The Making of the Modern World: A Reader in 20th Century Global History. He later joined the faculty at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon. During his tenure, Taylor also served as adjunct professor of Folklore and Ethnic Studies, and was acting director of the Ethnic Studies Program. He published his second book, The Forging of A Black Community: Seattle’s Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era, in 1994. He also held visiting professor positions at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington and at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Taylor was chair of the department of history at the University of Oregon from 1997 to 1999. In 1998, he published In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the America West, 1528-1990. In 1998, he was selected as the Philip H. Knight Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon; and was later appointed as the Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History at the University of Washington in 1999. For nineteen years, he served in this role, teaching African American history, history of the black west, and U.S. history, until his retirement in June 2018.
In 2007, Taylor founded BlackPast.org, an online reference database on African American history, with over thirty million users since its launch. In 2008, Taylor published a collection of primary documents titled From Timbuktu to Katrina: Readings in African American History. In 2009, he published, America-I-Am, Black Facts: The Story of a People Through Timelines, 1601-2000. Along with Dr. Samuel Kelly, Taylor co-authored Dr. Sam: The Autobiography of Dr. Samuel Kelly, Soldier, Educator, Advocate and Friend in 2010. Taylor also served on the Board of HistoryLink Interactive History Project.
Taylor has three children, Quintard III, and twins, William and Jamila.
Historian Quintard Taylor was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 9, 2017.