John Edwin Mason teaches African history and the history of photography. He has written extensively on early nineteenth-century South African history, especially the history of slavery, South African popular culture, especially the Cape Town New Year's Carnival and jazz, and the history of photography. He is now working on "Gordon Parks and American Democracy," a book about the ways in which Parks' Life Magazine photo-essays on social justice and the books that he published during the civil rights era challenged Americans' notions of citizenship and, at the same time, made him one of the era's most significant interpreters of the black experience. He is also a documentary photographer with a long-term interest in exploring race and gender in American motor sports. Until recently, he was an active musician, performing with the Charlottesville and University Symphony Orchestra, the Lynchburg (Virginia) Symphony Orchestra, and the New Lyric Theatre, among many other groups. He contributes regularly to Ellingtonia, the publication of the Duke Ellington Society.