Black History Month Montana – Taylor Gordon
February is Black History Month. And, it just so happens that Montana is home to a man who went from humble beginnings in MT to helping ignite the Harlem Renaissance.
The story of Emmanuel Taylor Gordon goes back to 1893, in the small town of White Sulphur Springs, Montana. Taylor parents handled cooking and laundry in the busy mining/cattle town. Growing up in this small town, and being one of the only black kids didn't seem to bother Taylor much. He had no problem making friends and living the Montana way of life. As you can tell by the photo below, Taylor and his crew almost resemble the "Little Rascals."
At the age of 17, Taylor left White Sulphur Springs and made his way East to New York City. It was there that he discovered his voice and began performing.
According to blackpast.org
the Harlem Renaissance gathered steam in the mid-1920s, he found more opportunities to advance his singing career. The most important of these was a partnership with J. Rosamond Johnson, who with his brother James Weldon Johnson, composed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and compiled the classic Book of American Negro Spirituals.
Soon Taylor's talented voice took him all over the world. And, even landed him a performance at Carnegie Hall. Where, according to blackpast.org " W.E.B. DuBois wrote afterwards that “No one who has heard Johnson and Gordon sing ‘Stand Still Jordan’ can ever forget its spell.”
Eventually, as Montana has tendencies of doing, called Gordon back to where it all began. Taylor Gordon moved back to White Sulphur Springs, MT in 1959. He lived out his remaining years in Montana, until he died in 1971.
Just another amazing person to add to the list of outstanding people who call Montana home.
Hear Alicia Keys perform the song written by Gordon's singing partner, James Weldon Johnson.
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