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About the Project

black and white image of a street with cars and power lines overhead
Birdland jazz club, right, 2203 E Madison Street, Seattle, ca. 1955. (Courtesy of University of Washington, Special Collections, 18092)


Black Arts Legacies highlights the long-standing, vital and ongoing role of Black artists and arts organizations in Seattle.


The first seeds of this project were planted in late 2020, after COVID-19 had upended the local arts economy, and the Black Lives Matter protests had prompted cultural organizations throughout the Northwest to examine their approach to issues of race.

On behalf of the Seattle Arts Commission, arts advocates Vivian Phillips and Dr. Quinton Morris approached Cascade PBS (formerly Crosscut) with an idea: a project that would “present a holistic view of a Black art ecosystem that embraces and uplifts the resilient, visionary and incomparable brilliance of Black arts that exists in our region.”

The goal was to create a celebratory and educational tool that illuminates the history and ongoing legacy of significant Black artists who have contributed to the city’s vibrancy. Framed as a kind of digital yearbook, the concept was to illustrate Black artists as cultural bearers, cultural commentators and essential cultural contributors.

Cascade PBS, with its commitment to reporting on the local arts community while striving to create a more just, equitable and sustainable society, embraced the idea and got to work.


Black Arts Legacies is a growing archive of video profiles, written accounts, portrait photography and audio stories. The project recognizes an intergenerational group of local musicians, dancers, visual artists, poets, performers, curators and architects whose creative expressions document the complexity of being a Black artist in Seattle. These are stories of being the first, of contending with discrimination and breaking down barriers, of long careers and careers cut short, and of building community through the arts. Their stories help make sense of who we are — as a city and as a region — through song, scripts, brush strokes, choreography, architecture and poetry.

You’ll get to know these artists through written profiles, portrait photography, video profiles and a podcast about the Black arts spaces that have fostered Black creativity in Seattle. Season 3 video profiles will be available online and broadcast on Cascade PBS (formerly KCTS 9) every Friday evening in June 2024.


Black Arts Legacies is made possible by the work of Black storytellers. In Season 1, project editors Kemi Adeyemi and Jasmine Jamillah Mahmoud researched and wrote the artist profiles that anchor this series. Mahmoud returned as a contributor for Season 2 and was joined by arts and culture writer Jas Keimig, who penned many of the profiles and has returned for Season 3. Tifa Tomb, a filmmaker and director, is the project’s video producer. Photographer Meron Menghistab creates striking portraits that reflect the creative essence of each artist. And Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers produced our podcast about Black arts spaces in Seattle.

Photo grid of storytellers
Top row from left to right: Jas Keimig, Meron Menghistab, Tifa Tomb, Vivian Phillips and Jasmine Mahmoud. Bottom row from left to right: Papa Ibrahima Diop, Neftali Kirkland, Kemi Adeyemi and Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers.

Storyteller Bios

Jas Keimig, Writer (Seasons 2-3)

Jas Keimig is a writer and critic based in Seattle. They previously worked on staff at The Stranger, covering visual art, film, music and stickers. Their work has also appeared in South Seattle Emerald, i-D, Netflix, Feast Portland and The Ticket. They also co-write "Unstreamable" for Scarecrow Video, a column and screening series highlighting films you can’t find on streaming services. They won a game show once. Learn more about Jas.

Meron Menghistab, Photographer (Seasons 1-2-3)

Meron is a Seattle-based photographer who works primarily in portraiture and narrative-based photography that seeks to reveal the commonality between his subject and his viewers. A sense of community is an important aspect of his vision and is ever-present in his storytelling. Learn more about Meron.

Tifa Tomb, Video Producer (Seasons 1-2-3)

Tifa is a Seattle-area filmmaker who produces and edits feature-length and short narrative and nonfiction work. She also works as a media producer at the University of Washington and directed the short film Retch, which won Best Film at the 2020 Seattle Black Film Festival. Her Black Arts Legacies profile of Reginald André Jackson was nominated for a Northwest Emmy Award. Learn more about Tifa.

Vivian Phillips, Consulting Producer (Seasons 1-2-3)

Vivian Phillips is an arts and strategic communications professional. She is a former Seattle Arts Commission Chair, and also chaired the board of 4Culture. She is the founder and editor in chief of Arte Noir, and is leading the development of the Arte Noir arts and cultural space at Midtown Square. Learn more about Vivian.

Jasmine Mahmoud, Project Editor (Season 1), Contributor (Seasons 2-3)

Jasmine is assistant professor of theater history and performance studies at the University of Washington, where she holds an affiliate appointment in art history. She co-edited Makeshift Chicago Stages: A Century of Theater and Performance. Learn more about Jasmine.

Papa Ibrahima Diop, Gaffer (Season 3)

Originally from Dakar, Senegal, Papa is a filmmaker, camera operator and set lighting technician. Since moving to Seattle in 2018, he has worked on a number of music videos and documentary films.

Neftali Kirkland, Director of Photography (Season 3)

Neftali is a cinematographer and gaffer based in Seattle. Their work spans from narrative and documentary content to video production education.

Kemi Adeyemi, Project Editor (Season 1)

Kemi is associate professor of gender, women and sexuality studies at the University of Washington, where she founded and directs The Black Embodiments Studio, an arts writing incubator and public programming initiative that builds discourse around contemporary Black art. Learn more about Kemi.

Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers, Podcast Producer (Season 1)

Brooklyn is the creator, host, producer and researcher of the history podcast We the (Black) People and a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she studied history. She created the Black Arts Legacies podcast while working as an emerging journalist fellow at Crosscut. Listen to more of Brooklyn's work.

Crosscut Support Staff

Brangien Davis, Arts & Culture Editor (Seasons 1-2-3)

Leah Baltus, Project Editor (Season 3)

Genna Martin, Associate Photo Editor (Seasons 1-2-3)

Sarah Menzies, Director of Original Productions (Seasons 2-3)

Adam Brown, Production Manager (Season 3)

Erick Msumanje, Technical Production Manager (Season 3)

Brianna Dorn, Producer (Season 3)

Greg Cohen, Design Director (Seasons 1-2-3)

Madeline Happold, Digital Content Manager (Seasons 1-2-3)

Nimra Ahmad, Emerging Journalist Fellow (Season 2), Engagement Producer (Season 3)

Sophie Grossman, Newsletter Editor (Season 3)

Josh Baker, Digital Project Manager (Seasons 1-2-3)

Chelsea Lee, Lead Website Developer (Seasons 1-2-3)

M. David Lee III, Executive Editor (Seasons 1-2-3)

Previous seasons of Black Arts Legacies featured the work of

Avery Johnson, Director of Photography (Seasons 1-2)

Gabriella Segovia-Breaux, Video Series Editor (Season 1)

Meshell Sturgis, Research Assistant (Season 1)

and staff contributions by

Margo Vansynghel, Arts & Culture Reporter (Season 1); Sara Bernard, Podcast Editor (Season 1); Sarah Hoffman, Video Producer (Season 1); Mark Baumgarten, Managing Editor (Seasons 1-2); Jingting Liu, Website Developer (Season 1-2); Martina Pansze, Newsletter Editor (Seasons 1-2); Grace Palmieri, Social Media Editor (Seasons 1-2); Syd Gladu, Audience Engagement Producer (Season 2); Gemma Wilson, Project Editor (Season 2); Shannen Ortale, Video Producer (Season 2); Brian Dehart, UX Designer (Season 2); Kyle Pace, Product Manager (Season 2).

Share your stories

Care to answer a few questions about Black arts in Seattle? Responses may appear in our weekly Black Arts Legacies newsletter or on our Instagram.

Thanks to our Many Sponsors

Village Theatre
Seattle Shakespeare