Western Writers of America Announces Its 2024 Wister Award Winner

Each year since 1961 Western Writers of America has bestowed on a respected individual its Owen Wister Award for lifetime achievement in the field of Western history. Previous Wister recipients include Oscar-winning director John Ford and actor John Wayne, Pulitzer-winning Kiowa poet and novelist N. Scott Momaday, historian Robert M. Utley and such bestselling novelists as Elmer Kelton and Tony Hillerman. Named for the author of the acclaimed 1902 novel The Virginian, the Wister is WWA’s highest award. The 2024 recipient is Quintard Taylor, a leading scholar in the history of the black experience out West. 

Quintard Taylor
Quintard Taylor

Professor emeritus and the Scott and Dorothy Bullitt professor of American History at the University of Washington, Seattle, Taylor is the author of In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West: 1528–1990 (2024) and editor of the anthology African American Women Confront the West, 1600–2000 (2003). He was born in 1948 in Brownsville, Texas, where his great-grandfather was born into slavery, his father managed a cotton plantation and his mother worked at menial labor. Taylor himself holds master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. In 2007 he founded BlackPast.org, an online encyclopedia of black history boasting 55 million users. 

“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,” said Max McCoy, WWA’s executive director. “As a pioneer in the effort to bring that experience to a wider audience, he richly deserves this, our highest award.” 

Established in the early 1950s to promote the literature of the American West, the nonprofit WWA has approximately 600 members worldwide, including writers and editors of fiction, nonfiction, songs, poems and screenplays. WWA will honor Taylor and its other award recipients at its annual convention, scheduled for June 19–22, 2024, in Tulsa, Okla.

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