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Etihad Airways Sends 13 New Hires to The Savoy Butler Academy For Serious Training

Etihad Airways Sends 13 New Hires to The Savoy Butler Academy For Serious Training


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If you've ever flown on an Etihad Airways flight, you know how seriously they take service, so it should be no surprise that they're really making sure that the people they choose to be the Butlers of their new 10 Airbus A380 fleet are the best of the best. The company sent 13 men and women to The Savoy hotel's Butler Academy for some serious academy training alongside head butler, Sean Davoren, and his team.

“The Savoy has long had an ethos of ‘personal service naturally’,” says Head Butler Sean Davoren, "and is the first hotel to establish its own school to train professionals. Our 24-hour Butler service here at The Savoy is designed to exceed all expectations, whether a guest needs to arrange dinner reservations, in-suite dining, secretarial services, personal shopping, theatre tickets, last-minute travel arrangements or administrative support."

The group of 13 are all In-Flight Chefs or Food & Beverage Managers and each one was carefully chosen for the position, "which combines the skills of both Concierge and Maître d’hôtel to provide superior service to the discerning guests of The Residence by Etihad." They spent two weeks at the London School of Hospitality and Tourism at the University of West London, which spanned a range of topics, including "customer care for VIP guests, advising on formal clothing, international etiquette, wine tasting, floral arrangements and much more." During their third week, they shadowed The Savoy's butlers to get first-account experience of the position's daily duties.

"Training professionals for the Hospitality Industry is something for which we have many years of experience and relevant expertise at London School of Hospitality and Tourism," says Patricia Paskins, course leader for Diploma for Butlers at University of West London. "We are delighted to be involved in this butler training which, for the first time, has been for a prestigious airline. The standards of excellence in service and the attention to detail required from a butler remain the same wherever it is carried out and this important addition to the ‘butler portfolio’ defines just how versatile this role can be."

If you don't know what The Residence by Etihad is, it's a three-room cabin (complete with a living room, shower-room, and a double bedroom) that will soon be introduced on the airway's upcoming fleet of 10 Airbus A380s, with the first aircraft planned for an inaugural flight to London Heathrow on December 27—with the new butler on board, of course.

A second group of butlers will head to the Savoy Butler Academy in early 2015.


19Media

By the early nineteenth century African Americans began to publish their own books, pamphlets, tracts and newspapers. Educated African Americans wanted to speak for themselves and meet the social and intellectual needs of their own communities. Many African Americans felt that racist writers gave such an inaccurate portrayal of blacks, that it was essential to write and publish their own materials to vindicate themselves. There have been more than 100 publishing houses started by African American churches, individuals, organizations, universities and cultural institutions dating back to this period. The publishing industry in the African American community managed to prosper regardless of the obstacles. Since the inception of African American book publishing, three types of publishers have emerged: religious, institutional, and trade publishers.

RELIGIOUS PUBLISHERS

African American religious denominations established religious publishing enterprises in order to publish works that would provide religious instruction and assist the clergy and laity in recording denominational history. Some religious publishers also released books on secular subjects that celebrated some aspect of African American culture or documented African American history.

Prior to the Civil War, two African American religious publishing enterprises existed. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) organized the AME Book Concern in Philadelphia in 1817—the first African American-owned book publishing enterprise in the United States. Publishing its first book in that same year, The Book of Discipline, the AME Book Concern published a host of classic religious and secular books until its operations were suspended in 1952 by the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1841, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church formed the AME Zion Publishing House New York City in 1940. Both of these denominations published devotionals, Biblical studies and commentaries, church histories and biographies, Sunday School materials and hymnals. The AME Sunday School Union and Publishing House, located in Bloomington, Indiana, began its work with literature for Sunday School students in 1882 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1886.

In Jackson, Tennessee, the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (CME)—known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church—started the CME Publishing House in 1870. The CME Publishing House, which only publishes books on religious subjects, is located in Memphis, Tennessee. The Publishing House states that is fourfold purpose it to disseminate official CME proclamations, to publish and distribute denominational literature, to act as the “literary mind of the church,” to record the church‘s history, safeguard the CME doctrine and to increase loyalty to the church through a fuller knowledge and appreciation of the church’s history.

One of the most successful African American religious publishers to come into existence during the nineteenth century was the National Baptist Publishing Board (NBPB). Under the leadership of Dr. Richard Henry Boyd and the auspices of the National Baptist Convention, USA, the NBPB was organized in Nashville in 1896. By 1913, this well-managed firm, publishing religious and secular books, grew into one of the largest African American-owned businesses in the country. In 1915, however, a dispute arose between the National Baptist Convention, USA, and Dr. Richard Henry Boyd over the ownership of the NBPB. In a legal battle, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided in favor of Boyd. The NBPB—now R.H. Boyd Publishing Corp. in honor of its founder—is owned by the Boyd family. With over 100 years of publishing experience, R. H. Boyd continues to thrive as a religious enterprise by publishing hymnals, Bibles and Sunday School materials as well as books about family, education, and history.

Faced with the loss of the NBPB in 1916, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. established the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., in Nashville. Over the years, this firm developed into one of the largest African American-owned publishing enterprises, publishing religious and secular books and pamphlets.

In 1907, the Church of God in Christ established the Church of God in Christ Publishing House in Memphis. Restricting its publications to religious books and pamphlets, this publisher met the ever-expanding need for religious literature for one of the fastest-growing African American religious denominations.

INSTITUTIONAL PUBLISHERS

During the post-Civil War decades of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century, educational, cultural, social, and political institutions published a variety of materials to meet the specific needs of African Americans.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

Hampton Institute became the first African American educational institution to publish books when the Hampton Institute Press was established in 1871. An active publisher until 1940, the Hampton Institute Press published travel books, poetry, textbooks, songbooks, conference proceedings, and The Southern Workman, one of the leading national African American periodicals published between its inception in 1871 and its demise in 1939. Institutions like Hampton played a vital role in preserving primary and secondary resources related to the history of African Americans in general and these institutions in particular. For example, in 1927 the press published a volume edited by R. Nathaniel Dett entitled Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung at Hampton Institute.

In 1896, the Atlanta University Press entered the book publishing market with the release of Atlanta University Publication Series, which consisted of monographs reporting on the findings of studies conducted by the university’s department of sociology under the direction of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. These works represented some of the earliest studies in urban sociology conducted in the South. The Atlanta University Press remained in operation until 1936. Du Bois was a pioneer not only in African American studies but also in the development of sociological methodology.

Industrial Work of Tuskegee Graduates and Former Students During the Year 1910, compiled by Monroe N. Work (1911), was the first book released by the Tuskegee Institute Press. With the publication of this book and other works by the press, Booker T. Washington sought to publicize the success of Tuskegee’s program to white philanthropists in the North as well as celebrated the achievements of the school‘s alumni. The Tuskegee Institute Press, which was active until 1958, published several other important works including John Kenny’s The Negroes in Medicine (1912) and Lynching by States, 1882–1958 (1958) by Jessie Parkhurst Guzman.

In 1910, another book publishing enterprise was launched on the campus of Tuskegee Institute - the Negro Yearbook Publishing Company. A partnership consisting of Robert E. Park, the famed white sociologist, Emmett J. Scott, secretary to Booker T. Washington, and Monroe N. Work, a sociology professor. This firm published the first edition of The Negro Yearbook in 1912. The most comprehensive reference book to appear to date on African Americans, The Negro Yearbook was highly regarded as the definitive work on statistics and facts on blacks worldwide. The enterprise experienced financial trouble in 1929. The Tuskegee Institute financed its operation until 1952. Between 1912 and 1952, The Negro Yearbook remained a classic model for most general reference works on blacks.

John W. Work’s The Negro and His Song (1915) was the first book issued under the Fisk University Press imprint. During the 1930s and 1940s, when Charles Spurgeon Johnson chaired the university’s department of sociology, Fisk University Press issued several important studies, including E. Franklin Frazier’s The Free Negro Family (1932) The Economic Status of the Negro by Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1933) and People versus Property by Herman Long and Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1947). The last publication released by the Fisk University Press was Build a Future: Addresses Marking the Inauguration of Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1949).

Although the board of trustees of Howard University approved the establishment of a university press on February 17, 1919, no university press existed at the university until 1974. Nonetheless, between 1919 and 1974, several books bearing the “Howard University Press” imprint were published, including The Founding of the School of Medicine of Howard University, 1868–1873 by Walter Dyson (1929) and The Housing of Negroes in Washington, D.C.: A Study in Human Ecology by William H. Jones (1929).

On April 8, 1974, the Howard University Press officially organized as a separate administrative unit within the university. It began with a staff of 12 professionals experienced in book publishing. Its mission remains to support the university by “providing leadership for America and the global community through the publication of noteworthy new scholarship that addresses the contributions, conditions, and concerns of African Americans, other people of African descent, and people of color around the world.” The Press publishes a variety of perspectives and disciplines that advance and deepen knowledge in its areas of focus. These include, but are not limited to: political, economic, and social sciences history health education communications fine arts science and technology literature and drama.

The Howard University Press’s inaugural list of 13 books included such titles as A Poetic Equation: Conversations Between Nikki Giovanni and Margaret Walker (1974) and Saw the House in Half, a Novel by Oliver Jackman (1974). A perpetually popular title is How Europe Under-developed Africa by Walter Rodney, originally published in 1982. Releases since 1999 included: Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory by Carol Pott and John A. Berry Mordecai: The Man and His Message, The Story of Mordecai Wyatt Johnson by Richard I. McKinney Black Writers and Latin America Cross Cultural Affinities by Richard Jackson and The Black Seminole Legacy and North American Politics, 1693–1845 by Bruce Edward Twyman. Two of the press’s popular works which were the direct results of scholarly conferences are Black Bibliophiles and Collectors: Preservers of History edited by Elinor DesVerney Sinnette, W. Paul Coates and Thomas C. Battle (1990) and Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora, edited by Joseph E. Harris, originally published in 1982 but now in its second edition, (1994).

With hundreds of books in print, the Howard University Press-the only African American university press still in existence-continued to flourish as one of the most viable university presses in the country. A popular 2002 volume edited by Elizabeth Clark-Lewis is First Freed: Washington, D.C. in the Emancipation Era. More recent works are A Right Worthy Grand Mission: Maggie Lena Walker and the Quest for Black Economic Empowerment (2003)and Dr. LeSalle D. Leffall, Jr., No Boundaries: A Cancer Surgeon’s Odyssey, (2005).

CULTURAL AND PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS

African American cultural and professional organizations and institutions have also developed publishing programs that include book publishing. The books published by these organizations document areas of African American history and depict various aspects of African American culture.

The need to demonstrate that blacks could excel in literature, arts and sciences led to the formation of the American Negro Academy on March 5, 1897 by Reverend Alexander Crummell, nineteenth century African American scholar, clergyman, and missionary. The American Negro Academy had as its major purpose the production of scholarly works assisting youth in attainments reflecting higher culture the dissemination of truth and the “vindication of the Negro” through raising the level of intellectual pursuits. The Academy quickly organized a publishing program that embraced book publishing. The Academy, whose membership included many of the foremost African American intellectuals of the day, released 21 occasional papers as pamphlets and monographs. Some of these are Crummell’s “Civilization, the Primal Need of the Race,” (1897), Charles C. Cook, “Comparative Study of the Negro Problem,” (1899) and Archibald Grimke, “Ballotless Victim of One-Party Governments,” 1913. All twenty-two of the papers are available in print from Arno Press, (1969). The American Negro Academy ceased to exist in 1928.

The Association for the Study of African-American History (formerly Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and, originally the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History-began publishing the Journal of African American History (originally the Journal of Negro History) in 1916 and started its book publishing program in 1918. By 1940, the association had published 28 books. After that year, the book publishing activities of the association declined until 1950, when its founder Carter G. Woodson died and provided in his will for the transfer of the Associated Publishers, Inc. to the association. The most enduring work of the press is probably, The Mis-education of the Negro published by Associated Press in 1933. One of Woodson’s famous quotes from the work is:

When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ’proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.

Howard University philosophy professor Alain Locke organized the Associates of Negro Folk Education in Washington, D.C., with a grant from the American Adult Education Association. The Associates published a series of seven books known as the Bronze Booklets from 1935 to 1940. Written by black scholars on various aspects of African American life and edited by Locke, some of the titles included: A World View of Race by Nobel laureate Ralph J. Bunche (1936) The Negro and Economic Reconstruction by T. Arnold Hill (1937) and Negro Poetry and Drama by Sterling Brown (1937).

CIVIL RIGHTS, SOCIAL WELFARE, AND POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS

In 1913, five years after its founding, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched its publishing program with three books: A Child’s Story of Dunbar by Julia L. Henderson Norris Wright Cuney by Maude Cuney Hare and Hazel by Mary White Ovington. In 1914, George Williamson Crawford’s Prince Hall and His Followers appeared, and in 1919, Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889 1918 was released. After 1919, the NAACP published few books, with the organization limiting its publishing to pamphlets, its annual reports, and Crisis, a bimonthly magazine.

Crisis, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois from its inception in 1910 to 1934, gained success was phenomenal popularity, Du Bois later wrote. Circulation rose from several thousand monthly to 50,000 by 1917, peaking finally at more than 100,000 in 1919. Many credit Du Bois and his editorship of the Crisis to the immediate popularity of the NAACP. Today the magazine remains dedicated to discussing critical issues confronting people of color, American society, and the world. In addition, it highlights the historical and cultural achievements of these diverse peoples. Through essays, interviews, and in-depth reporting, writers explore past and present issues concerning race and its impact on educational, economic, political, social, moral, and ethical issues. Each issue is also highlighted with a special section, “The NAACP Today,” which reports on the news and events of the organization on a local and national level.

In contrast, the National Urban League (NUL) has been a very active book publisher. The League first embarked on book publishing in 1927 when it published Ebony and Topaz, an anthology of Harlem Renaissance writers, poets, and artists edited by Charles Spurgeon Johnson. Through the years, NUL released numerous sociological and economic studies on the plight of African Americans, including Negro Membership in Labor Unions (1930), Race, Fear and Housing in a Typical American Community (1946), and Power of the Ballot: A Handbook for Black Political Participation (1973). In addition to these monographs, the organization began publishing The State of Black America in 1976. The State of Black America is the annual Urban League report that addresses the issues central to Black America in the current year. The publication is a barometer of the conditions, experiences and opinions of Black America. It examines black progress in education, homeownership, entrepreneurship, health and other areas. The publication forecasts certain social and political trends and proposes solutions to the community’s and America’s most pressing challenges. Newer works include Crime and Justice in Black America by Christopher E. Stone (1999) a special report entitled The Impact of Social Security on Child Poverty by Valerie A. Rawlston (2000) and The Urban League’s Assessment of the President’s Education Plan (2001) by Hugh B. Price, NAACP President and CEO.

The State of Black America 2006 report was compiled and analyzed against the backdrop Hurricanes Katrina and Rita The 2006 report stated that Black Americans continued to hover at 0.73 of the status of White Americans.

The publishing program of the Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League focused on the publication of its newspaper, The Negro World. The motto of the U.N.I.A. was “One God! One Aim! One Destiny.” The Negro World was a weekly newspaper founded in 1918 was published in French and Spanish as well as English. In it African history and heroes were glorified. The UNIA also published two volumes called The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, which were compiled and edited by Amy Jacques-Garvey from 1923 to 1925.

COMMERCIAL PUBLISHERS

Until the 1960s, most African American commercial book publishing enterprises were short-lived. Two exceptions to this phenomenon existed, however: Broadside Press in Detroit and Third World Press in Chicago. Established by Dudley Randall in 1965, Broadside Press, which remains active, published poetry by African American authors-many of whom became icons later in life-such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Danner, Robert Hayden, Langston Hughes, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Don L. Lee (Haki R. Madhubuti), Sonia Sanchez, Melvin Tolson, and Margaret Walker. Following in the footsteps of Randall, in 1967, Haki Madhubuti founded Third World Press. Third World Press is now the oldest continually-operating African American commercial book publisher in the United States. In 1969, Dempsey Travis founded Urban Research Press.

Over the years, African American publishers have learned that a sizable African American readership exists. Since 1970 several major African American publishers have emerged. In 1978, Black Classic Press was founded by librarian Paul Coates to publish obscure, but significant, works by and about people of African descent. In 1981, Open Hand Publishing Inc. was founded by Anna Johnson.

Inspired by the dearth of books for his courses, former Rutgers University African Studies instructor Kassahun Checole founded the Africa World Press in 1983 to publish material on the economic, political, and social development of Africa. By the end of the twentieth century, African World Press, which published nearly 60 titles annually, was the premier publisher of books on African, African American, Caribbean, and Latin American issues. Its sister company, Red Sea Press, established in 1985, was one of the largest distributors of material by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

Just Us Books, Inc., founded by writer Wade Hudson and graphic artist Cheryl Willis Hudson, publishes books and educational material for children that focus on the African American experience. The idea to start the company first came to Cheryl in 1976, when she was unable to find African American images to decorate her daughter’s nursery. Just Us Books published its first book in 1988—an alphabet book featuring African American children posed to create the letters. The company had sales of $1.6 million in its 2002 fiscal year. Diaspora Press of America, which publishes African American Diasporic folktales, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children’s stories and Amber Books, which publishes self-help and career-guide books the 1995.

Independent African American-owned book stores have benefitted from a resurgence of African American authors and an abundance of titles, but major bookstore chains make competition stiff. Although African Americans’ book buying grew from $181 million in 1990 to $296 million in 1995, with the decline in hardcover sales, publishers were more cautious about placing books with specialty stores for fear that a book would lose mainstream appeal.

With the increasing demand for African American–oriented books, especially those written by African Americans, two diverging opinions arose from the African American literary community. Some believed that the creation of imprints like Strivers Row (Villard/Random House), Amistad (HarperCollins), Harlem Moon (Random House), and Dafina Books (Kensington) diminished the opportunity to showcase different genres. Furthermore, this faction insisted that African American books published by major white companies were too formulaic. Others believed that the abundance of African American books allowed for all kinds of literature thus, ultimately increasing the number of African American authors published each year. Although the two groups disagreed on the quality of African American literature being published, both agreed that the proliferation of African American writers and the subsequent successful sales of their titles were most important, especially if they retain long-term marketability.

COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

In the 1990s, African American comics peaked in popularity. Once relegated to a form of children’s entertainment, comic books found an audience with young adults in their twenties to thirties. In fact, in 1990, Cable News Network (CNN) noted that sales of multiracial comics had jumped 9 percent, thus accounting for 10 percent of all comic book sales. One reason for the growth among the African American adult readership is collectibility-since most African American series are short-lived, each issue has the potential to become a rarity. Another reason is the fact that African American comics now better reflect the cultural and artistic concerns of the African American community.

African American characters of yore, often grotesquely drawn by whites, were either sidekicks or afterthoughts—never the stars. For example, Ebony, an African American character, paraded around with white superhero The Spirit in the 1940s. Meanwhile, Captain America had Falcon, his black version of the Lone Ranger’s Native American sidekick Tonto. Other African American characters were portrayed as ignorant, uneducated, and inept at worst. Blatantly stereotypical, most were created and drawn by white males who did not know much about the reality of African Americans. Over the years, the status of African American comic book characters evolved in the same negative ways that whites’ perceptions of blacks did. By the 1960s and 1970s, African Americans were depicted either as drug addicts or Uncle Toms.

True change did not occur until a few enterprising African Americans took matters into their own hands. By 1993, Africa Rising Comics, Afrocentric Books, Dark Zulu Lies, Omega 7 Comics, and UP Comics had created ANIA (the Swahili word for “serve and protect”) Comics under the leadership of Eric Griffin. The group’s goal was to become a major publishing force by pooling their talents. The mainstream comic book publishers responded by producing comic books that featured black characters to capitalize on the market that ANIA’s creators started. Disbanding soon thereafter, ANIA’s existence highlighted the growing line of non-white superheroes. Their titles included Brotherman, Malcolm 10, Heru, Zwanna, Purge, and Ebony Warrior.

In the mid-1990s, Big City Comics produced Brotherman, which revolved around a public defender who also fought crime as “the dictator of discipline.” Omega 7 Inc., founded by Alonzo Washington, a former member of ANIA, is based in Kansas City, Kansas. As of 2002, it was the largest independent African American comic book publisher. Omega 7 Inc. introduced fans to The Original Man, a champion of morality and supporter and protector of African American women The Mighty Ace, with an anti-drug, anti-gang, anti-violence message and Darkforce, a revolutionary African American hero. Other characters include Omega Man, Original Boy, Original Woman, and The Omega 7. Washington develops each comic and writes the storylines.

UP Comics offered Purge, which detailed the trials and tribulations of a man whose sole goal was to rid his city of evil. Lionheart, from Prophesy Comics, also emphasized morality. In a unique twist, Castel Publications came up with The Grammar Patrol, multiethnic heros with a penchant for knowing the rules of speech and writing. Geared towards children, it showed that the medium could be educational as well as entertaining.

Most of these companies were completely African American, from the owners and artists to the storywriters and marketers. Mainstream publishers entered the fray when industry giant DC Comics began distributing Milestone Comics in 1991 as part of their new imprint Milestone Media, formerly an African American-owned, independent publisher run by Derek T. Dingle. With a broad, full-process color system at hand, the company made history as the first major publisher to back African American creators. Among their titles have been Hardware, Blood Syndicate, Icon, Kobalt, Shadow Cabinet, Xombi, and Static, the latter featuring a teen hero who also became an animated television program.

Although the desire to read comic books with African American characters and the number of new African American comic books continued to increase, only between 25 and 30 percent of comic book buyers are minorities. Since the demise of ANIA and many other African American independently owned publishers, it became difficult for African Americans to produce their own publications. The two major comic book publishers, DC Comics and Marvel Comics, have both created several or more African American comic book characters and are not usually open to purchasing outside characters unless they can own them outright. In addition, some of the more popular African American comic book characters have been created by whites, for example, Spawn, Luke Cage, The Black Panther, The Falcon, and Blade (the inspiration for the movies starring Wesley Snipes). Therefore, aspiring African American comic book artists have two options: they can find an independent publisher or self-publish. Since both are usually difficult, many artists opt to work on more established characters, like Superman, Spiderman, or Batman, to ensure their financial stability with the goal of eventually saving enough money to publish their own characters. Two notable exceptions are Alex Simmons, creator of Blackjack and P. Skylar Owens, creator of Knightmare, Team Sexecutioner, and CyJax.


19Media

By the early nineteenth century African Americans began to publish their own books, pamphlets, tracts and newspapers. Educated African Americans wanted to speak for themselves and meet the social and intellectual needs of their own communities. Many African Americans felt that racist writers gave such an inaccurate portrayal of blacks, that it was essential to write and publish their own materials to vindicate themselves. There have been more than 100 publishing houses started by African American churches, individuals, organizations, universities and cultural institutions dating back to this period. The publishing industry in the African American community managed to prosper regardless of the obstacles. Since the inception of African American book publishing, three types of publishers have emerged: religious, institutional, and trade publishers.

RELIGIOUS PUBLISHERS

African American religious denominations established religious publishing enterprises in order to publish works that would provide religious instruction and assist the clergy and laity in recording denominational history. Some religious publishers also released books on secular subjects that celebrated some aspect of African American culture or documented African American history.

Prior to the Civil War, two African American religious publishing enterprises existed. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) organized the AME Book Concern in Philadelphia in 1817—the first African American-owned book publishing enterprise in the United States. Publishing its first book in that same year, The Book of Discipline, the AME Book Concern published a host of classic religious and secular books until its operations were suspended in 1952 by the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1841, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church formed the AME Zion Publishing House New York City in 1940. Both of these denominations published devotionals, Biblical studies and commentaries, church histories and biographies, Sunday School materials and hymnals. The AME Sunday School Union and Publishing House, located in Bloomington, Indiana, began its work with literature for Sunday School students in 1882 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1886.

In Jackson, Tennessee, the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (CME)—known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church—started the CME Publishing House in 1870. The CME Publishing House, which only publishes books on religious subjects, is located in Memphis, Tennessee. The Publishing House states that is fourfold purpose it to disseminate official CME proclamations, to publish and distribute denominational literature, to act as the “literary mind of the church,” to record the church‘s history, safeguard the CME doctrine and to increase loyalty to the church through a fuller knowledge and appreciation of the church’s history.

One of the most successful African American religious publishers to come into existence during the nineteenth century was the National Baptist Publishing Board (NBPB). Under the leadership of Dr. Richard Henry Boyd and the auspices of the National Baptist Convention, USA, the NBPB was organized in Nashville in 1896. By 1913, this well-managed firm, publishing religious and secular books, grew into one of the largest African American-owned businesses in the country. In 1915, however, a dispute arose between the National Baptist Convention, USA, and Dr. Richard Henry Boyd over the ownership of the NBPB. In a legal battle, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided in favor of Boyd. The NBPB—now R.H. Boyd Publishing Corp. in honor of its founder—is owned by the Boyd family. With over 100 years of publishing experience, R. H. Boyd continues to thrive as a religious enterprise by publishing hymnals, Bibles and Sunday School materials as well as books about family, education, and history.

Faced with the loss of the NBPB in 1916, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. established the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., in Nashville. Over the years, this firm developed into one of the largest African American-owned publishing enterprises, publishing religious and secular books and pamphlets.

In 1907, the Church of God in Christ established the Church of God in Christ Publishing House in Memphis. Restricting its publications to religious books and pamphlets, this publisher met the ever-expanding need for religious literature for one of the fastest-growing African American religious denominations.

INSTITUTIONAL PUBLISHERS

During the post-Civil War decades of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century, educational, cultural, social, and political institutions published a variety of materials to meet the specific needs of African Americans.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

Hampton Institute became the first African American educational institution to publish books when the Hampton Institute Press was established in 1871. An active publisher until 1940, the Hampton Institute Press published travel books, poetry, textbooks, songbooks, conference proceedings, and The Southern Workman, one of the leading national African American periodicals published between its inception in 1871 and its demise in 1939. Institutions like Hampton played a vital role in preserving primary and secondary resources related to the history of African Americans in general and these institutions in particular. For example, in 1927 the press published a volume edited by R. Nathaniel Dett entitled Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung at Hampton Institute.

In 1896, the Atlanta University Press entered the book publishing market with the release of Atlanta University Publication Series, which consisted of monographs reporting on the findings of studies conducted by the university’s department of sociology under the direction of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. These works represented some of the earliest studies in urban sociology conducted in the South. The Atlanta University Press remained in operation until 1936. Du Bois was a pioneer not only in African American studies but also in the development of sociological methodology.

Industrial Work of Tuskegee Graduates and Former Students During the Year 1910, compiled by Monroe N. Work (1911), was the first book released by the Tuskegee Institute Press. With the publication of this book and other works by the press, Booker T. Washington sought to publicize the success of Tuskegee’s program to white philanthropists in the North as well as celebrated the achievements of the school‘s alumni. The Tuskegee Institute Press, which was active until 1958, published several other important works including John Kenny’s The Negroes in Medicine (1912) and Lynching by States, 1882–1958 (1958) by Jessie Parkhurst Guzman.

In 1910, another book publishing enterprise was launched on the campus of Tuskegee Institute - the Negro Yearbook Publishing Company. A partnership consisting of Robert E. Park, the famed white sociologist, Emmett J. Scott, secretary to Booker T. Washington, and Monroe N. Work, a sociology professor. This firm published the first edition of The Negro Yearbook in 1912. The most comprehensive reference book to appear to date on African Americans, The Negro Yearbook was highly regarded as the definitive work on statistics and facts on blacks worldwide. The enterprise experienced financial trouble in 1929. The Tuskegee Institute financed its operation until 1952. Between 1912 and 1952, The Negro Yearbook remained a classic model for most general reference works on blacks.

John W. Work’s The Negro and His Song (1915) was the first book issued under the Fisk University Press imprint. During the 1930s and 1940s, when Charles Spurgeon Johnson chaired the university’s department of sociology, Fisk University Press issued several important studies, including E. Franklin Frazier’s The Free Negro Family (1932) The Economic Status of the Negro by Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1933) and People versus Property by Herman Long and Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1947). The last publication released by the Fisk University Press was Build a Future: Addresses Marking the Inauguration of Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1949).

Although the board of trustees of Howard University approved the establishment of a university press on February 17, 1919, no university press existed at the university until 1974. Nonetheless, between 1919 and 1974, several books bearing the “Howard University Press” imprint were published, including The Founding of the School of Medicine of Howard University, 1868–1873 by Walter Dyson (1929) and The Housing of Negroes in Washington, D.C.: A Study in Human Ecology by William H. Jones (1929).

On April 8, 1974, the Howard University Press officially organized as a separate administrative unit within the university. It began with a staff of 12 professionals experienced in book publishing. Its mission remains to support the university by “providing leadership for America and the global community through the publication of noteworthy new scholarship that addresses the contributions, conditions, and concerns of African Americans, other people of African descent, and people of color around the world.” The Press publishes a variety of perspectives and disciplines that advance and deepen knowledge in its areas of focus. These include, but are not limited to: political, economic, and social sciences history health education communications fine arts science and technology literature and drama.

The Howard University Press’s inaugural list of 13 books included such titles as A Poetic Equation: Conversations Between Nikki Giovanni and Margaret Walker (1974) and Saw the House in Half, a Novel by Oliver Jackman (1974). A perpetually popular title is How Europe Under-developed Africa by Walter Rodney, originally published in 1982. Releases since 1999 included: Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory by Carol Pott and John A. Berry Mordecai: The Man and His Message, The Story of Mordecai Wyatt Johnson by Richard I. McKinney Black Writers and Latin America Cross Cultural Affinities by Richard Jackson and The Black Seminole Legacy and North American Politics, 1693–1845 by Bruce Edward Twyman. Two of the press’s popular works which were the direct results of scholarly conferences are Black Bibliophiles and Collectors: Preservers of History edited by Elinor DesVerney Sinnette, W. Paul Coates and Thomas C. Battle (1990) and Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora, edited by Joseph E. Harris, originally published in 1982 but now in its second edition, (1994).

With hundreds of books in print, the Howard University Press-the only African American university press still in existence-continued to flourish as one of the most viable university presses in the country. A popular 2002 volume edited by Elizabeth Clark-Lewis is First Freed: Washington, D.C. in the Emancipation Era. More recent works are A Right Worthy Grand Mission: Maggie Lena Walker and the Quest for Black Economic Empowerment (2003)and Dr. LeSalle D. Leffall, Jr., No Boundaries: A Cancer Surgeon’s Odyssey, (2005).

CULTURAL AND PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS

African American cultural and professional organizations and institutions have also developed publishing programs that include book publishing. The books published by these organizations document areas of African American history and depict various aspects of African American culture.

The need to demonstrate that blacks could excel in literature, arts and sciences led to the formation of the American Negro Academy on March 5, 1897 by Reverend Alexander Crummell, nineteenth century African American scholar, clergyman, and missionary. The American Negro Academy had as its major purpose the production of scholarly works assisting youth in attainments reflecting higher culture the dissemination of truth and the “vindication of the Negro” through raising the level of intellectual pursuits. The Academy quickly organized a publishing program that embraced book publishing. The Academy, whose membership included many of the foremost African American intellectuals of the day, released 21 occasional papers as pamphlets and monographs. Some of these are Crummell’s “Civilization, the Primal Need of the Race,” (1897), Charles C. Cook, “Comparative Study of the Negro Problem,” (1899) and Archibald Grimke, “Ballotless Victim of One-Party Governments,” 1913. All twenty-two of the papers are available in print from Arno Press, (1969). The American Negro Academy ceased to exist in 1928.

The Association for the Study of African-American History (formerly Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and, originally the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History-began publishing the Journal of African American History (originally the Journal of Negro History) in 1916 and started its book publishing program in 1918. By 1940, the association had published 28 books. After that year, the book publishing activities of the association declined until 1950, when its founder Carter G. Woodson died and provided in his will for the transfer of the Associated Publishers, Inc. to the association. The most enduring work of the press is probably, The Mis-education of the Negro published by Associated Press in 1933. One of Woodson’s famous quotes from the work is:

When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ’proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.

Howard University philosophy professor Alain Locke organized the Associates of Negro Folk Education in Washington, D.C., with a grant from the American Adult Education Association. The Associates published a series of seven books known as the Bronze Booklets from 1935 to 1940. Written by black scholars on various aspects of African American life and edited by Locke, some of the titles included: A World View of Race by Nobel laureate Ralph J. Bunche (1936) The Negro and Economic Reconstruction by T. Arnold Hill (1937) and Negro Poetry and Drama by Sterling Brown (1937).

CIVIL RIGHTS, SOCIAL WELFARE, AND POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS

In 1913, five years after its founding, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched its publishing program with three books: A Child’s Story of Dunbar by Julia L. Henderson Norris Wright Cuney by Maude Cuney Hare and Hazel by Mary White Ovington. In 1914, George Williamson Crawford’s Prince Hall and His Followers appeared, and in 1919, Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889 1918 was released. After 1919, the NAACP published few books, with the organization limiting its publishing to pamphlets, its annual reports, and Crisis, a bimonthly magazine.

Crisis, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois from its inception in 1910 to 1934, gained success was phenomenal popularity, Du Bois later wrote. Circulation rose from several thousand monthly to 50,000 by 1917, peaking finally at more than 100,000 in 1919. Many credit Du Bois and his editorship of the Crisis to the immediate popularity of the NAACP. Today the magazine remains dedicated to discussing critical issues confronting people of color, American society, and the world. In addition, it highlights the historical and cultural achievements of these diverse peoples. Through essays, interviews, and in-depth reporting, writers explore past and present issues concerning race and its impact on educational, economic, political, social, moral, and ethical issues. Each issue is also highlighted with a special section, “The NAACP Today,” which reports on the news and events of the organization on a local and national level.

In contrast, the National Urban League (NUL) has been a very active book publisher. The League first embarked on book publishing in 1927 when it published Ebony and Topaz, an anthology of Harlem Renaissance writers, poets, and artists edited by Charles Spurgeon Johnson. Through the years, NUL released numerous sociological and economic studies on the plight of African Americans, including Negro Membership in Labor Unions (1930), Race, Fear and Housing in a Typical American Community (1946), and Power of the Ballot: A Handbook for Black Political Participation (1973). In addition to these monographs, the organization began publishing The State of Black America in 1976. The State of Black America is the annual Urban League report that addresses the issues central to Black America in the current year. The publication is a barometer of the conditions, experiences and opinions of Black America. It examines black progress in education, homeownership, entrepreneurship, health and other areas. The publication forecasts certain social and political trends and proposes solutions to the community’s and America’s most pressing challenges. Newer works include Crime and Justice in Black America by Christopher E. Stone (1999) a special report entitled The Impact of Social Security on Child Poverty by Valerie A. Rawlston (2000) and The Urban League’s Assessment of the President’s Education Plan (2001) by Hugh B. Price, NAACP President and CEO.

The State of Black America 2006 report was compiled and analyzed against the backdrop Hurricanes Katrina and Rita The 2006 report stated that Black Americans continued to hover at 0.73 of the status of White Americans.

The publishing program of the Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League focused on the publication of its newspaper, The Negro World. The motto of the U.N.I.A. was “One God! One Aim! One Destiny.” The Negro World was a weekly newspaper founded in 1918 was published in French and Spanish as well as English. In it African history and heroes were glorified. The UNIA also published two volumes called The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, which were compiled and edited by Amy Jacques-Garvey from 1923 to 1925.

COMMERCIAL PUBLISHERS

Until the 1960s, most African American commercial book publishing enterprises were short-lived. Two exceptions to this phenomenon existed, however: Broadside Press in Detroit and Third World Press in Chicago. Established by Dudley Randall in 1965, Broadside Press, which remains active, published poetry by African American authors-many of whom became icons later in life-such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Danner, Robert Hayden, Langston Hughes, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Don L. Lee (Haki R. Madhubuti), Sonia Sanchez, Melvin Tolson, and Margaret Walker. Following in the footsteps of Randall, in 1967, Haki Madhubuti founded Third World Press. Third World Press is now the oldest continually-operating African American commercial book publisher in the United States. In 1969, Dempsey Travis founded Urban Research Press.

Over the years, African American publishers have learned that a sizable African American readership exists. Since 1970 several major African American publishers have emerged. In 1978, Black Classic Press was founded by librarian Paul Coates to publish obscure, but significant, works by and about people of African descent. In 1981, Open Hand Publishing Inc. was founded by Anna Johnson.

Inspired by the dearth of books for his courses, former Rutgers University African Studies instructor Kassahun Checole founded the Africa World Press in 1983 to publish material on the economic, political, and social development of Africa. By the end of the twentieth century, African World Press, which published nearly 60 titles annually, was the premier publisher of books on African, African American, Caribbean, and Latin American issues. Its sister company, Red Sea Press, established in 1985, was one of the largest distributors of material by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

Just Us Books, Inc., founded by writer Wade Hudson and graphic artist Cheryl Willis Hudson, publishes books and educational material for children that focus on the African American experience. The idea to start the company first came to Cheryl in 1976, when she was unable to find African American images to decorate her daughter’s nursery. Just Us Books published its first book in 1988—an alphabet book featuring African American children posed to create the letters. The company had sales of $1.6 million in its 2002 fiscal year. Diaspora Press of America, which publishes African American Diasporic folktales, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children’s stories and Amber Books, which publishes self-help and career-guide books the 1995.

Independent African American-owned book stores have benefitted from a resurgence of African American authors and an abundance of titles, but major bookstore chains make competition stiff. Although African Americans’ book buying grew from $181 million in 1990 to $296 million in 1995, with the decline in hardcover sales, publishers were more cautious about placing books with specialty stores for fear that a book would lose mainstream appeal.

With the increasing demand for African American–oriented books, especially those written by African Americans, two diverging opinions arose from the African American literary community. Some believed that the creation of imprints like Strivers Row (Villard/Random House), Amistad (HarperCollins), Harlem Moon (Random House), and Dafina Books (Kensington) diminished the opportunity to showcase different genres. Furthermore, this faction insisted that African American books published by major white companies were too formulaic. Others believed that the abundance of African American books allowed for all kinds of literature thus, ultimately increasing the number of African American authors published each year. Although the two groups disagreed on the quality of African American literature being published, both agreed that the proliferation of African American writers and the subsequent successful sales of their titles were most important, especially if they retain long-term marketability.

COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

In the 1990s, African American comics peaked in popularity. Once relegated to a form of children’s entertainment, comic books found an audience with young adults in their twenties to thirties. In fact, in 1990, Cable News Network (CNN) noted that sales of multiracial comics had jumped 9 percent, thus accounting for 10 percent of all comic book sales. One reason for the growth among the African American adult readership is collectibility-since most African American series are short-lived, each issue has the potential to become a rarity. Another reason is the fact that African American comics now better reflect the cultural and artistic concerns of the African American community.

African American characters of yore, often grotesquely drawn by whites, were either sidekicks or afterthoughts—never the stars. For example, Ebony, an African American character, paraded around with white superhero The Spirit in the 1940s. Meanwhile, Captain America had Falcon, his black version of the Lone Ranger’s Native American sidekick Tonto. Other African American characters were portrayed as ignorant, uneducated, and inept at worst. Blatantly stereotypical, most were created and drawn by white males who did not know much about the reality of African Americans. Over the years, the status of African American comic book characters evolved in the same negative ways that whites’ perceptions of blacks did. By the 1960s and 1970s, African Americans were depicted either as drug addicts or Uncle Toms.

True change did not occur until a few enterprising African Americans took matters into their own hands. By 1993, Africa Rising Comics, Afrocentric Books, Dark Zulu Lies, Omega 7 Comics, and UP Comics had created ANIA (the Swahili word for “serve and protect”) Comics under the leadership of Eric Griffin. The group’s goal was to become a major publishing force by pooling their talents. The mainstream comic book publishers responded by producing comic books that featured black characters to capitalize on the market that ANIA’s creators started. Disbanding soon thereafter, ANIA’s existence highlighted the growing line of non-white superheroes. Their titles included Brotherman, Malcolm 10, Heru, Zwanna, Purge, and Ebony Warrior.

In the mid-1990s, Big City Comics produced Brotherman, which revolved around a public defender who also fought crime as “the dictator of discipline.” Omega 7 Inc., founded by Alonzo Washington, a former member of ANIA, is based in Kansas City, Kansas. As of 2002, it was the largest independent African American comic book publisher. Omega 7 Inc. introduced fans to The Original Man, a champion of morality and supporter and protector of African American women The Mighty Ace, with an anti-drug, anti-gang, anti-violence message and Darkforce, a revolutionary African American hero. Other characters include Omega Man, Original Boy, Original Woman, and The Omega 7. Washington develops each comic and writes the storylines.

UP Comics offered Purge, which detailed the trials and tribulations of a man whose sole goal was to rid his city of evil. Lionheart, from Prophesy Comics, also emphasized morality. In a unique twist, Castel Publications came up with The Grammar Patrol, multiethnic heros with a penchant for knowing the rules of speech and writing. Geared towards children, it showed that the medium could be educational as well as entertaining.

Most of these companies were completely African American, from the owners and artists to the storywriters and marketers. Mainstream publishers entered the fray when industry giant DC Comics began distributing Milestone Comics in 1991 as part of their new imprint Milestone Media, formerly an African American-owned, independent publisher run by Derek T. Dingle. With a broad, full-process color system at hand, the company made history as the first major publisher to back African American creators. Among their titles have been Hardware, Blood Syndicate, Icon, Kobalt, Shadow Cabinet, Xombi, and Static, the latter featuring a teen hero who also became an animated television program.

Although the desire to read comic books with African American characters and the number of new African American comic books continued to increase, only between 25 and 30 percent of comic book buyers are minorities. Since the demise of ANIA and many other African American independently owned publishers, it became difficult for African Americans to produce their own publications. The two major comic book publishers, DC Comics and Marvel Comics, have both created several or more African American comic book characters and are not usually open to purchasing outside characters unless they can own them outright. In addition, some of the more popular African American comic book characters have been created by whites, for example, Spawn, Luke Cage, The Black Panther, The Falcon, and Blade (the inspiration for the movies starring Wesley Snipes). Therefore, aspiring African American comic book artists have two options: they can find an independent publisher or self-publish. Since both are usually difficult, many artists opt to work on more established characters, like Superman, Spiderman, or Batman, to ensure their financial stability with the goal of eventually saving enough money to publish their own characters. Two notable exceptions are Alex Simmons, creator of Blackjack and P. Skylar Owens, creator of Knightmare, Team Sexecutioner, and CyJax.


19Media

By the early nineteenth century African Americans began to publish their own books, pamphlets, tracts and newspapers. Educated African Americans wanted to speak for themselves and meet the social and intellectual needs of their own communities. Many African Americans felt that racist writers gave such an inaccurate portrayal of blacks, that it was essential to write and publish their own materials to vindicate themselves. There have been more than 100 publishing houses started by African American churches, individuals, organizations, universities and cultural institutions dating back to this period. The publishing industry in the African American community managed to prosper regardless of the obstacles. Since the inception of African American book publishing, three types of publishers have emerged: religious, institutional, and trade publishers.

RELIGIOUS PUBLISHERS

African American religious denominations established religious publishing enterprises in order to publish works that would provide religious instruction and assist the clergy and laity in recording denominational history. Some religious publishers also released books on secular subjects that celebrated some aspect of African American culture or documented African American history.

Prior to the Civil War, two African American religious publishing enterprises existed. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) organized the AME Book Concern in Philadelphia in 1817—the first African American-owned book publishing enterprise in the United States. Publishing its first book in that same year, The Book of Discipline, the AME Book Concern published a host of classic religious and secular books until its operations were suspended in 1952 by the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1841, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church formed the AME Zion Publishing House New York City in 1940. Both of these denominations published devotionals, Biblical studies and commentaries, church histories and biographies, Sunday School materials and hymnals. The AME Sunday School Union and Publishing House, located in Bloomington, Indiana, began its work with literature for Sunday School students in 1882 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1886.

In Jackson, Tennessee, the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (CME)—known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church—started the CME Publishing House in 1870. The CME Publishing House, which only publishes books on religious subjects, is located in Memphis, Tennessee. The Publishing House states that is fourfold purpose it to disseminate official CME proclamations, to publish and distribute denominational literature, to act as the “literary mind of the church,” to record the church‘s history, safeguard the CME doctrine and to increase loyalty to the church through a fuller knowledge and appreciation of the church’s history.

One of the most successful African American religious publishers to come into existence during the nineteenth century was the National Baptist Publishing Board (NBPB). Under the leadership of Dr. Richard Henry Boyd and the auspices of the National Baptist Convention, USA, the NBPB was organized in Nashville in 1896. By 1913, this well-managed firm, publishing religious and secular books, grew into one of the largest African American-owned businesses in the country. In 1915, however, a dispute arose between the National Baptist Convention, USA, and Dr. Richard Henry Boyd over the ownership of the NBPB. In a legal battle, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided in favor of Boyd. The NBPB—now R.H. Boyd Publishing Corp. in honor of its founder—is owned by the Boyd family. With over 100 years of publishing experience, R. H. Boyd continues to thrive as a religious enterprise by publishing hymnals, Bibles and Sunday School materials as well as books about family, education, and history.

Faced with the loss of the NBPB in 1916, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. established the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., in Nashville. Over the years, this firm developed into one of the largest African American-owned publishing enterprises, publishing religious and secular books and pamphlets.

In 1907, the Church of God in Christ established the Church of God in Christ Publishing House in Memphis. Restricting its publications to religious books and pamphlets, this publisher met the ever-expanding need for religious literature for one of the fastest-growing African American religious denominations.

INSTITUTIONAL PUBLISHERS

During the post-Civil War decades of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century, educational, cultural, social, and political institutions published a variety of materials to meet the specific needs of African Americans.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

Hampton Institute became the first African American educational institution to publish books when the Hampton Institute Press was established in 1871. An active publisher until 1940, the Hampton Institute Press published travel books, poetry, textbooks, songbooks, conference proceedings, and The Southern Workman, one of the leading national African American periodicals published between its inception in 1871 and its demise in 1939. Institutions like Hampton played a vital role in preserving primary and secondary resources related to the history of African Americans in general and these institutions in particular. For example, in 1927 the press published a volume edited by R. Nathaniel Dett entitled Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung at Hampton Institute.

In 1896, the Atlanta University Press entered the book publishing market with the release of Atlanta University Publication Series, which consisted of monographs reporting on the findings of studies conducted by the university’s department of sociology under the direction of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. These works represented some of the earliest studies in urban sociology conducted in the South. The Atlanta University Press remained in operation until 1936. Du Bois was a pioneer not only in African American studies but also in the development of sociological methodology.

Industrial Work of Tuskegee Graduates and Former Students During the Year 1910, compiled by Monroe N. Work (1911), was the first book released by the Tuskegee Institute Press. With the publication of this book and other works by the press, Booker T. Washington sought to publicize the success of Tuskegee’s program to white philanthropists in the North as well as celebrated the achievements of the school‘s alumni. The Tuskegee Institute Press, which was active until 1958, published several other important works including John Kenny’s The Negroes in Medicine (1912) and Lynching by States, 1882–1958 (1958) by Jessie Parkhurst Guzman.

In 1910, another book publishing enterprise was launched on the campus of Tuskegee Institute - the Negro Yearbook Publishing Company. A partnership consisting of Robert E. Park, the famed white sociologist, Emmett J. Scott, secretary to Booker T. Washington, and Monroe N. Work, a sociology professor. This firm published the first edition of The Negro Yearbook in 1912. The most comprehensive reference book to appear to date on African Americans, The Negro Yearbook was highly regarded as the definitive work on statistics and facts on blacks worldwide. The enterprise experienced financial trouble in 1929. The Tuskegee Institute financed its operation until 1952. Between 1912 and 1952, The Negro Yearbook remained a classic model for most general reference works on blacks.

John W. Work’s The Negro and His Song (1915) was the first book issued under the Fisk University Press imprint. During the 1930s and 1940s, when Charles Spurgeon Johnson chaired the university’s department of sociology, Fisk University Press issued several important studies, including E. Franklin Frazier’s The Free Negro Family (1932) The Economic Status of the Negro by Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1933) and People versus Property by Herman Long and Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1947). The last publication released by the Fisk University Press was Build a Future: Addresses Marking the Inauguration of Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1949).

Although the board of trustees of Howard University approved the establishment of a university press on February 17, 1919, no university press existed at the university until 1974. Nonetheless, between 1919 and 1974, several books bearing the “Howard University Press” imprint were published, including The Founding of the School of Medicine of Howard University, 1868–1873 by Walter Dyson (1929) and The Housing of Negroes in Washington, D.C.: A Study in Human Ecology by William H. Jones (1929).

On April 8, 1974, the Howard University Press officially organized as a separate administrative unit within the university. It began with a staff of 12 professionals experienced in book publishing. Its mission remains to support the university by “providing leadership for America and the global community through the publication of noteworthy new scholarship that addresses the contributions, conditions, and concerns of African Americans, other people of African descent, and people of color around the world.” The Press publishes a variety of perspectives and disciplines that advance and deepen knowledge in its areas of focus. These include, but are not limited to: political, economic, and social sciences history health education communications fine arts science and technology literature and drama.

The Howard University Press’s inaugural list of 13 books included such titles as A Poetic Equation: Conversations Between Nikki Giovanni and Margaret Walker (1974) and Saw the House in Half, a Novel by Oliver Jackman (1974). A perpetually popular title is How Europe Under-developed Africa by Walter Rodney, originally published in 1982. Releases since 1999 included: Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory by Carol Pott and John A. Berry Mordecai: The Man and His Message, The Story of Mordecai Wyatt Johnson by Richard I. McKinney Black Writers and Latin America Cross Cultural Affinities by Richard Jackson and The Black Seminole Legacy and North American Politics, 1693–1845 by Bruce Edward Twyman. Two of the press’s popular works which were the direct results of scholarly conferences are Black Bibliophiles and Collectors: Preservers of History edited by Elinor DesVerney Sinnette, W. Paul Coates and Thomas C. Battle (1990) and Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora, edited by Joseph E. Harris, originally published in 1982 but now in its second edition, (1994).

With hundreds of books in print, the Howard University Press-the only African American university press still in existence-continued to flourish as one of the most viable university presses in the country. A popular 2002 volume edited by Elizabeth Clark-Lewis is First Freed: Washington, D.C. in the Emancipation Era. More recent works are A Right Worthy Grand Mission: Maggie Lena Walker and the Quest for Black Economic Empowerment (2003)and Dr. LeSalle D. Leffall, Jr., No Boundaries: A Cancer Surgeon’s Odyssey, (2005).

CULTURAL AND PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS

African American cultural and professional organizations and institutions have also developed publishing programs that include book publishing. The books published by these organizations document areas of African American history and depict various aspects of African American culture.

The need to demonstrate that blacks could excel in literature, arts and sciences led to the formation of the American Negro Academy on March 5, 1897 by Reverend Alexander Crummell, nineteenth century African American scholar, clergyman, and missionary. The American Negro Academy had as its major purpose the production of scholarly works assisting youth in attainments reflecting higher culture the dissemination of truth and the “vindication of the Negro” through raising the level of intellectual pursuits. The Academy quickly organized a publishing program that embraced book publishing. The Academy, whose membership included many of the foremost African American intellectuals of the day, released 21 occasional papers as pamphlets and monographs. Some of these are Crummell’s “Civilization, the Primal Need of the Race,” (1897), Charles C. Cook, “Comparative Study of the Negro Problem,” (1899) and Archibald Grimke, “Ballotless Victim of One-Party Governments,” 1913. All twenty-two of the papers are available in print from Arno Press, (1969). The American Negro Academy ceased to exist in 1928.

The Association for the Study of African-American History (formerly Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and, originally the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History-began publishing the Journal of African American History (originally the Journal of Negro History) in 1916 and started its book publishing program in 1918. By 1940, the association had published 28 books. After that year, the book publishing activities of the association declined until 1950, when its founder Carter G. Woodson died and provided in his will for the transfer of the Associated Publishers, Inc. to the association. The most enduring work of the press is probably, The Mis-education of the Negro published by Associated Press in 1933. One of Woodson’s famous quotes from the work is:

When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ’proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.

Howard University philosophy professor Alain Locke organized the Associates of Negro Folk Education in Washington, D.C., with a grant from the American Adult Education Association. The Associates published a series of seven books known as the Bronze Booklets from 1935 to 1940. Written by black scholars on various aspects of African American life and edited by Locke, some of the titles included: A World View of Race by Nobel laureate Ralph J. Bunche (1936) The Negro and Economic Reconstruction by T. Arnold Hill (1937) and Negro Poetry and Drama by Sterling Brown (1937).

CIVIL RIGHTS, SOCIAL WELFARE, AND POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS

In 1913, five years after its founding, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched its publishing program with three books: A Child’s Story of Dunbar by Julia L. Henderson Norris Wright Cuney by Maude Cuney Hare and Hazel by Mary White Ovington. In 1914, George Williamson Crawford’s Prince Hall and His Followers appeared, and in 1919, Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889 1918 was released. After 1919, the NAACP published few books, with the organization limiting its publishing to pamphlets, its annual reports, and Crisis, a bimonthly magazine.

Crisis, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois from its inception in 1910 to 1934, gained success was phenomenal popularity, Du Bois later wrote. Circulation rose from several thousand monthly to 50,000 by 1917, peaking finally at more than 100,000 in 1919. Many credit Du Bois and his editorship of the Crisis to the immediate popularity of the NAACP. Today the magazine remains dedicated to discussing critical issues confronting people of color, American society, and the world. In addition, it highlights the historical and cultural achievements of these diverse peoples. Through essays, interviews, and in-depth reporting, writers explore past and present issues concerning race and its impact on educational, economic, political, social, moral, and ethical issues. Each issue is also highlighted with a special section, “The NAACP Today,” which reports on the news and events of the organization on a local and national level.

In contrast, the National Urban League (NUL) has been a very active book publisher. The League first embarked on book publishing in 1927 when it published Ebony and Topaz, an anthology of Harlem Renaissance writers, poets, and artists edited by Charles Spurgeon Johnson. Through the years, NUL released numerous sociological and economic studies on the plight of African Americans, including Negro Membership in Labor Unions (1930), Race, Fear and Housing in a Typical American Community (1946), and Power of the Ballot: A Handbook for Black Political Participation (1973). In addition to these monographs, the organization began publishing The State of Black America in 1976. The State of Black America is the annual Urban League report that addresses the issues central to Black America in the current year. The publication is a barometer of the conditions, experiences and opinions of Black America. It examines black progress in education, homeownership, entrepreneurship, health and other areas. The publication forecasts certain social and political trends and proposes solutions to the community’s and America’s most pressing challenges. Newer works include Crime and Justice in Black America by Christopher E. Stone (1999) a special report entitled The Impact of Social Security on Child Poverty by Valerie A. Rawlston (2000) and The Urban League’s Assessment of the President’s Education Plan (2001) by Hugh B. Price, NAACP President and CEO.

The State of Black America 2006 report was compiled and analyzed against the backdrop Hurricanes Katrina and Rita The 2006 report stated that Black Americans continued to hover at 0.73 of the status of White Americans.

The publishing program of the Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League focused on the publication of its newspaper, The Negro World. The motto of the U.N.I.A. was “One God! One Aim! One Destiny.” The Negro World was a weekly newspaper founded in 1918 was published in French and Spanish as well as English. In it African history and heroes were glorified. The UNIA also published two volumes called The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, which were compiled and edited by Amy Jacques-Garvey from 1923 to 1925.

COMMERCIAL PUBLISHERS

Until the 1960s, most African American commercial book publishing enterprises were short-lived. Two exceptions to this phenomenon existed, however: Broadside Press in Detroit and Third World Press in Chicago. Established by Dudley Randall in 1965, Broadside Press, which remains active, published poetry by African American authors-many of whom became icons later in life-such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Danner, Robert Hayden, Langston Hughes, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Don L. Lee (Haki R. Madhubuti), Sonia Sanchez, Melvin Tolson, and Margaret Walker. Following in the footsteps of Randall, in 1967, Haki Madhubuti founded Third World Press. Third World Press is now the oldest continually-operating African American commercial book publisher in the United States. In 1969, Dempsey Travis founded Urban Research Press.

Over the years, African American publishers have learned that a sizable African American readership exists. Since 1970 several major African American publishers have emerged. In 1978, Black Classic Press was founded by librarian Paul Coates to publish obscure, but significant, works by and about people of African descent. In 1981, Open Hand Publishing Inc. was founded by Anna Johnson.

Inspired by the dearth of books for his courses, former Rutgers University African Studies instructor Kassahun Checole founded the Africa World Press in 1983 to publish material on the economic, political, and social development of Africa. By the end of the twentieth century, African World Press, which published nearly 60 titles annually, was the premier publisher of books on African, African American, Caribbean, and Latin American issues. Its sister company, Red Sea Press, established in 1985, was one of the largest distributors of material by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

Just Us Books, Inc., founded by writer Wade Hudson and graphic artist Cheryl Willis Hudson, publishes books and educational material for children that focus on the African American experience. The idea to start the company first came to Cheryl in 1976, when she was unable to find African American images to decorate her daughter’s nursery. Just Us Books published its first book in 1988—an alphabet book featuring African American children posed to create the letters. The company had sales of $1.6 million in its 2002 fiscal year. Diaspora Press of America, which publishes African American Diasporic folktales, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children’s stories and Amber Books, which publishes self-help and career-guide books the 1995.

Independent African American-owned book stores have benefitted from a resurgence of African American authors and an abundance of titles, but major bookstore chains make competition stiff. Although African Americans’ book buying grew from $181 million in 1990 to $296 million in 1995, with the decline in hardcover sales, publishers were more cautious about placing books with specialty stores for fear that a book would lose mainstream appeal.

With the increasing demand for African American–oriented books, especially those written by African Americans, two diverging opinions arose from the African American literary community. Some believed that the creation of imprints like Strivers Row (Villard/Random House), Amistad (HarperCollins), Harlem Moon (Random House), and Dafina Books (Kensington) diminished the opportunity to showcase different genres. Furthermore, this faction insisted that African American books published by major white companies were too formulaic. Others believed that the abundance of African American books allowed for all kinds of literature thus, ultimately increasing the number of African American authors published each year. Although the two groups disagreed on the quality of African American literature being published, both agreed that the proliferation of African American writers and the subsequent successful sales of their titles were most important, especially if they retain long-term marketability.

COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

In the 1990s, African American comics peaked in popularity. Once relegated to a form of children’s entertainment, comic books found an audience with young adults in their twenties to thirties. In fact, in 1990, Cable News Network (CNN) noted that sales of multiracial comics had jumped 9 percent, thus accounting for 10 percent of all comic book sales. One reason for the growth among the African American adult readership is collectibility-since most African American series are short-lived, each issue has the potential to become a rarity. Another reason is the fact that African American comics now better reflect the cultural and artistic concerns of the African American community.

African American characters of yore, often grotesquely drawn by whites, were either sidekicks or afterthoughts—never the stars. For example, Ebony, an African American character, paraded around with white superhero The Spirit in the 1940s. Meanwhile, Captain America had Falcon, his black version of the Lone Ranger’s Native American sidekick Tonto. Other African American characters were portrayed as ignorant, uneducated, and inept at worst. Blatantly stereotypical, most were created and drawn by white males who did not know much about the reality of African Americans. Over the years, the status of African American comic book characters evolved in the same negative ways that whites’ perceptions of blacks did. By the 1960s and 1970s, African Americans were depicted either as drug addicts or Uncle Toms.

True change did not occur until a few enterprising African Americans took matters into their own hands. By 1993, Africa Rising Comics, Afrocentric Books, Dark Zulu Lies, Omega 7 Comics, and UP Comics had created ANIA (the Swahili word for “serve and protect”) Comics under the leadership of Eric Griffin. The group’s goal was to become a major publishing force by pooling their talents. The mainstream comic book publishers responded by producing comic books that featured black characters to capitalize on the market that ANIA’s creators started. Disbanding soon thereafter, ANIA’s existence highlighted the growing line of non-white superheroes. Their titles included Brotherman, Malcolm 10, Heru, Zwanna, Purge, and Ebony Warrior.

In the mid-1990s, Big City Comics produced Brotherman, which revolved around a public defender who also fought crime as “the dictator of discipline.” Omega 7 Inc., founded by Alonzo Washington, a former member of ANIA, is based in Kansas City, Kansas. As of 2002, it was the largest independent African American comic book publisher. Omega 7 Inc. introduced fans to The Original Man, a champion of morality and supporter and protector of African American women The Mighty Ace, with an anti-drug, anti-gang, anti-violence message and Darkforce, a revolutionary African American hero. Other characters include Omega Man, Original Boy, Original Woman, and The Omega 7. Washington develops each comic and writes the storylines.

UP Comics offered Purge, which detailed the trials and tribulations of a man whose sole goal was to rid his city of evil. Lionheart, from Prophesy Comics, also emphasized morality. In a unique twist, Castel Publications came up with The Grammar Patrol, multiethnic heros with a penchant for knowing the rules of speech and writing. Geared towards children, it showed that the medium could be educational as well as entertaining.

Most of these companies were completely African American, from the owners and artists to the storywriters and marketers. Mainstream publishers entered the fray when industry giant DC Comics began distributing Milestone Comics in 1991 as part of their new imprint Milestone Media, formerly an African American-owned, independent publisher run by Derek T. Dingle. With a broad, full-process color system at hand, the company made history as the first major publisher to back African American creators. Among their titles have been Hardware, Blood Syndicate, Icon, Kobalt, Shadow Cabinet, Xombi, and Static, the latter featuring a teen hero who also became an animated television program.

Although the desire to read comic books with African American characters and the number of new African American comic books continued to increase, only between 25 and 30 percent of comic book buyers are minorities. Since the demise of ANIA and many other African American independently owned publishers, it became difficult for African Americans to produce their own publications. The two major comic book publishers, DC Comics and Marvel Comics, have both created several or more African American comic book characters and are not usually open to purchasing outside characters unless they can own them outright. In addition, some of the more popular African American comic book characters have been created by whites, for example, Spawn, Luke Cage, The Black Panther, The Falcon, and Blade (the inspiration for the movies starring Wesley Snipes). Therefore, aspiring African American comic book artists have two options: they can find an independent publisher or self-publish. Since both are usually difficult, many artists opt to work on more established characters, like Superman, Spiderman, or Batman, to ensure their financial stability with the goal of eventually saving enough money to publish their own characters. Two notable exceptions are Alex Simmons, creator of Blackjack and P. Skylar Owens, creator of Knightmare, Team Sexecutioner, and CyJax.


19Media

By the early nineteenth century African Americans began to publish their own books, pamphlets, tracts and newspapers. Educated African Americans wanted to speak for themselves and meet the social and intellectual needs of their own communities. Many African Americans felt that racist writers gave such an inaccurate portrayal of blacks, that it was essential to write and publish their own materials to vindicate themselves. There have been more than 100 publishing houses started by African American churches, individuals, organizations, universities and cultural institutions dating back to this period. The publishing industry in the African American community managed to prosper regardless of the obstacles. Since the inception of African American book publishing, three types of publishers have emerged: religious, institutional, and trade publishers.

RELIGIOUS PUBLISHERS

African American religious denominations established religious publishing enterprises in order to publish works that would provide religious instruction and assist the clergy and laity in recording denominational history. Some religious publishers also released books on secular subjects that celebrated some aspect of African American culture or documented African American history.

Prior to the Civil War, two African American religious publishing enterprises existed. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) organized the AME Book Concern in Philadelphia in 1817—the first African American-owned book publishing enterprise in the United States. Publishing its first book in that same year, The Book of Discipline, the AME Book Concern published a host of classic religious and secular books until its operations were suspended in 1952 by the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1841, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church formed the AME Zion Publishing House New York City in 1940. Both of these denominations published devotionals, Biblical studies and commentaries, church histories and biographies, Sunday School materials and hymnals. The AME Sunday School Union and Publishing House, located in Bloomington, Indiana, began its work with literature for Sunday School students in 1882 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1886.

In Jackson, Tennessee, the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (CME)—known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church—started the CME Publishing House in 1870. The CME Publishing House, which only publishes books on religious subjects, is located in Memphis, Tennessee. The Publishing House states that is fourfold purpose it to disseminate official CME proclamations, to publish and distribute denominational literature, to act as the “literary mind of the church,” to record the church‘s history, safeguard the CME doctrine and to increase loyalty to the church through a fuller knowledge and appreciation of the church’s history.

One of the most successful African American religious publishers to come into existence during the nineteenth century was the National Baptist Publishing Board (NBPB). Under the leadership of Dr. Richard Henry Boyd and the auspices of the National Baptist Convention, USA, the NBPB was organized in Nashville in 1896. By 1913, this well-managed firm, publishing religious and secular books, grew into one of the largest African American-owned businesses in the country. In 1915, however, a dispute arose between the National Baptist Convention, USA, and Dr. Richard Henry Boyd over the ownership of the NBPB. In a legal battle, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided in favor of Boyd. The NBPB—now R.H. Boyd Publishing Corp. in honor of its founder—is owned by the Boyd family. With over 100 years of publishing experience, R. H. Boyd continues to thrive as a religious enterprise by publishing hymnals, Bibles and Sunday School materials as well as books about family, education, and history.

Faced with the loss of the NBPB in 1916, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. established the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., in Nashville. Over the years, this firm developed into one of the largest African American-owned publishing enterprises, publishing religious and secular books and pamphlets.

In 1907, the Church of God in Christ established the Church of God in Christ Publishing House in Memphis. Restricting its publications to religious books and pamphlets, this publisher met the ever-expanding need for religious literature for one of the fastest-growing African American religious denominations.

INSTITUTIONAL PUBLISHERS

During the post-Civil War decades of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century, educational, cultural, social, and political institutions published a variety of materials to meet the specific needs of African Americans.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

Hampton Institute became the first African American educational institution to publish books when the Hampton Institute Press was established in 1871. An active publisher until 1940, the Hampton Institute Press published travel books, poetry, textbooks, songbooks, conference proceedings, and The Southern Workman, one of the leading national African American periodicals published between its inception in 1871 and its demise in 1939. Institutions like Hampton played a vital role in preserving primary and secondary resources related to the history of African Americans in general and these institutions in particular. For example, in 1927 the press published a volume edited by R. Nathaniel Dett entitled Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung at Hampton Institute.

In 1896, the Atlanta University Press entered the book publishing market with the release of Atlanta University Publication Series, which consisted of monographs reporting on the findings of studies conducted by the university’s department of sociology under the direction of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. These works represented some of the earliest studies in urban sociology conducted in the South. The Atlanta University Press remained in operation until 1936. Du Bois was a pioneer not only in African American studies but also in the development of sociological methodology.

Industrial Work of Tuskegee Graduates and Former Students During the Year 1910, compiled by Monroe N. Work (1911), was the first book released by the Tuskegee Institute Press. With the publication of this book and other works by the press, Booker T. Washington sought to publicize the success of Tuskegee’s program to white philanthropists in the North as well as celebrated the achievements of the school‘s alumni. The Tuskegee Institute Press, which was active until 1958, published several other important works including John Kenny’s The Negroes in Medicine (1912) and Lynching by States, 1882–1958 (1958) by Jessie Parkhurst Guzman.

In 1910, another book publishing enterprise was launched on the campus of Tuskegee Institute - the Negro Yearbook Publishing Company. A partnership consisting of Robert E. Park, the famed white sociologist, Emmett J. Scott, secretary to Booker T. Washington, and Monroe N. Work, a sociology professor. This firm published the first edition of The Negro Yearbook in 1912. The most comprehensive reference book to appear to date on African Americans, The Negro Yearbook was highly regarded as the definitive work on statistics and facts on blacks worldwide. The enterprise experienced financial trouble in 1929. The Tuskegee Institute financed its operation until 1952. Between 1912 and 1952, The Negro Yearbook remained a classic model for most general reference works on blacks.

John W. Work’s The Negro and His Song (1915) was the first book issued under the Fisk University Press imprint. During the 1930s and 1940s, when Charles Spurgeon Johnson chaired the university’s department of sociology, Fisk University Press issued several important studies, including E. Franklin Frazier’s The Free Negro Family (1932) The Economic Status of the Negro by Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1933) and People versus Property by Herman Long and Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1947). The last publication released by the Fisk University Press was Build a Future: Addresses Marking the Inauguration of Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1949).

Although the board of trustees of Howard University approved the establishment of a university press on February 17, 1919, no university press existed at the university until 1974. Nonetheless, between 1919 and 1974, several books bearing the “Howard University Press” imprint were published, including The Founding of the School of Medicine of Howard University, 1868–1873 by Walter Dyson (1929) and The Housing of Negroes in Washington, D.C.: A Study in Human Ecology by William H. Jones (1929).

On April 8, 1974, the Howard University Press officially organized as a separate administrative unit within the university. It began with a staff of 12 professionals experienced in book publishing. Its mission remains to support the university by “providing leadership for America and the global community through the publication of noteworthy new scholarship that addresses the contributions, conditions, and concerns of African Americans, other people of African descent, and people of color around the world.” The Press publishes a variety of perspectives and disciplines that advance and deepen knowledge in its areas of focus. These include, but are not limited to: political, economic, and social sciences history health education communications fine arts science and technology literature and drama.

The Howard University Press’s inaugural list of 13 books included such titles as A Poetic Equation: Conversations Between Nikki Giovanni and Margaret Walker (1974) and Saw the House in Half, a Novel by Oliver Jackman (1974). A perpetually popular title is How Europe Under-developed Africa by Walter Rodney, originally published in 1982. Releases since 1999 included: Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory by Carol Pott and John A. Berry Mordecai: The Man and His Message, The Story of Mordecai Wyatt Johnson by Richard I. McKinney Black Writers and Latin America Cross Cultural Affinities by Richard Jackson and The Black Seminole Legacy and North American Politics, 1693–1845 by Bruce Edward Twyman. Two of the press’s popular works which were the direct results of scholarly conferences are Black Bibliophiles and Collectors: Preservers of History edited by Elinor DesVerney Sinnette, W. Paul Coates and Thomas C. Battle (1990) and Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora, edited by Joseph E. Harris, originally published in 1982 but now in its second edition, (1994).

With hundreds of books in print, the Howard University Press-the only African American university press still in existence-continued to flourish as one of the most viable university presses in the country. A popular 2002 volume edited by Elizabeth Clark-Lewis is First Freed: Washington, D.C. in the Emancipation Era. More recent works are A Right Worthy Grand Mission: Maggie Lena Walker and the Quest for Black Economic Empowerment (2003)and Dr. LeSalle D. Leffall, Jr., No Boundaries: A Cancer Surgeon’s Odyssey, (2005).

CULTURAL AND PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS

African American cultural and professional organizations and institutions have also developed publishing programs that include book publishing. The books published by these organizations document areas of African American history and depict various aspects of African American culture.

The need to demonstrate that blacks could excel in literature, arts and sciences led to the formation of the American Negro Academy on March 5, 1897 by Reverend Alexander Crummell, nineteenth century African American scholar, clergyman, and missionary. The American Negro Academy had as its major purpose the production of scholarly works assisting youth in attainments reflecting higher culture the dissemination of truth and the “vindication of the Negro” through raising the level of intellectual pursuits. The Academy quickly organized a publishing program that embraced book publishing. The Academy, whose membership included many of the foremost African American intellectuals of the day, released 21 occasional papers as pamphlets and monographs. Some of these are Crummell’s “Civilization, the Primal Need of the Race,” (1897), Charles C. Cook, “Comparative Study of the Negro Problem,” (1899) and Archibald Grimke, “Ballotless Victim of One-Party Governments,” 1913. All twenty-two of the papers are available in print from Arno Press, (1969). The American Negro Academy ceased to exist in 1928.

The Association for the Study of African-American History (formerly Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and, originally the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History-began publishing the Journal of African American History (originally the Journal of Negro History) in 1916 and started its book publishing program in 1918. By 1940, the association had published 28 books. After that year, the book publishing activities of the association declined until 1950, when its founder Carter G. Woodson died and provided in his will for the transfer of the Associated Publishers, Inc. to the association. The most enduring work of the press is probably, The Mis-education of the Negro published by Associated Press in 1933. One of Woodson’s famous quotes from the work is:

When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ’proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.

Howard University philosophy professor Alain Locke organized the Associates of Negro Folk Education in Washington, D.C., with a grant from the American Adult Education Association. The Associates published a series of seven books known as the Bronze Booklets from 1935 to 1940. Written by black scholars on various aspects of African American life and edited by Locke, some of the titles included: A World View of Race by Nobel laureate Ralph J. Bunche (1936) The Negro and Economic Reconstruction by T. Arnold Hill (1937) and Negro Poetry and Drama by Sterling Brown (1937).

CIVIL RIGHTS, SOCIAL WELFARE, AND POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS

In 1913, five years after its founding, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched its publishing program with three books: A Child’s Story of Dunbar by Julia L. Henderson Norris Wright Cuney by Maude Cuney Hare and Hazel by Mary White Ovington. In 1914, George Williamson Crawford’s Prince Hall and His Followers appeared, and in 1919, Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889 1918 was released. After 1919, the NAACP published few books, with the organization limiting its publishing to pamphlets, its annual reports, and Crisis, a bimonthly magazine.

Crisis, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois from its inception in 1910 to 1934, gained success was phenomenal popularity, Du Bois later wrote. Circulation rose from several thousand monthly to 50,000 by 1917, peaking finally at more than 100,000 in 1919. Many credit Du Bois and his editorship of the Crisis to the immediate popularity of the NAACP. Today the magazine remains dedicated to discussing critical issues confronting people of color, American society, and the world. In addition, it highlights the historical and cultural achievements of these diverse peoples. Through essays, interviews, and in-depth reporting, writers explore past and present issues concerning race and its impact on educational, economic, political, social, moral, and ethical issues. Each issue is also highlighted with a special section, “The NAACP Today,” which reports on the news and events of the organization on a local and national level.

In contrast, the National Urban League (NUL) has been a very active book publisher. The League first embarked on book publishing in 1927 when it published Ebony and Topaz, an anthology of Harlem Renaissance writers, poets, and artists edited by Charles Spurgeon Johnson. Through the years, NUL released numerous sociological and economic studies on the plight of African Americans, including Negro Membership in Labor Unions (1930), Race, Fear and Housing in a Typical American Community (1946), and Power of the Ballot: A Handbook for Black Political Participation (1973). In addition to these monographs, the organization began publishing The State of Black America in 1976. The State of Black America is the annual Urban League report that addresses the issues central to Black America in the current year. The publication is a barometer of the conditions, experiences and opinions of Black America. It examines black progress in education, homeownership, entrepreneurship, health and other areas. The publication forecasts certain social and political trends and proposes solutions to the community’s and America’s most pressing challenges. Newer works include Crime and Justice in Black America by Christopher E. Stone (1999) a special report entitled The Impact of Social Security on Child Poverty by Valerie A. Rawlston (2000) and The Urban League’s Assessment of the President’s Education Plan (2001) by Hugh B. Price, NAACP President and CEO.

The State of Black America 2006 report was compiled and analyzed against the backdrop Hurricanes Katrina and Rita The 2006 report stated that Black Americans continued to hover at 0.73 of the status of White Americans.

The publishing program of the Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League focused on the publication of its newspaper, The Negro World. The motto of the U.N.I.A. was “One God! One Aim! One Destiny.” The Negro World was a weekly newspaper founded in 1918 was published in French and Spanish as well as English. In it African history and heroes were glorified. The UNIA also published two volumes called The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, which were compiled and edited by Amy Jacques-Garvey from 1923 to 1925.

COMMERCIAL PUBLISHERS

Until the 1960s, most African American commercial book publishing enterprises were short-lived. Two exceptions to this phenomenon existed, however: Broadside Press in Detroit and Third World Press in Chicago. Established by Dudley Randall in 1965, Broadside Press, which remains active, published poetry by African American authors-many of whom became icons later in life-such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Danner, Robert Hayden, Langston Hughes, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Don L. Lee (Haki R. Madhubuti), Sonia Sanchez, Melvin Tolson, and Margaret Walker. Following in the footsteps of Randall, in 1967, Haki Madhubuti founded Third World Press. Third World Press is now the oldest continually-operating African American commercial book publisher in the United States. In 1969, Dempsey Travis founded Urban Research Press.

Over the years, African American publishers have learned that a sizable African American readership exists. Since 1970 several major African American publishers have emerged. In 1978, Black Classic Press was founded by librarian Paul Coates to publish obscure, but significant, works by and about people of African descent. In 1981, Open Hand Publishing Inc. was founded by Anna Johnson.

Inspired by the dearth of books for his courses, former Rutgers University African Studies instructor Kassahun Checole founded the Africa World Press in 1983 to publish material on the economic, political, and social development of Africa. By the end of the twentieth century, African World Press, which published nearly 60 titles annually, was the premier publisher of books on African, African American, Caribbean, and Latin American issues. Its sister company, Red Sea Press, established in 1985, was one of the largest distributors of material by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

Just Us Books, Inc., founded by writer Wade Hudson and graphic artist Cheryl Willis Hudson, publishes books and educational material for children that focus on the African American experience. The idea to start the company first came to Cheryl in 1976, when she was unable to find African American images to decorate her daughter’s nursery. Just Us Books published its first book in 1988—an alphabet book featuring African American children posed to create the letters. The company had sales of $1.6 million in its 2002 fiscal year. Diaspora Press of America, which publishes African American Diasporic folktales, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children’s stories and Amber Books, which publishes self-help and career-guide books the 1995.

Independent African American-owned book stores have benefitted from a resurgence of African American authors and an abundance of titles, but major bookstore chains make competition stiff. Although African Americans’ book buying grew from $181 million in 1990 to $296 million in 1995, with the decline in hardcover sales, publishers were more cautious about placing books with specialty stores for fear that a book would lose mainstream appeal.

With the increasing demand for African American–oriented books, especially those written by African Americans, two diverging opinions arose from the African American literary community. Some believed that the creation of imprints like Strivers Row (Villard/Random House), Amistad (HarperCollins), Harlem Moon (Random House), and Dafina Books (Kensington) diminished the opportunity to showcase different genres. Furthermore, this faction insisted that African American books published by major white companies were too formulaic. Others believed that the abundance of African American books allowed for all kinds of literature thus, ultimately increasing the number of African American authors published each year. Although the two groups disagreed on the quality of African American literature being published, both agreed that the proliferation of African American writers and the subsequent successful sales of their titles were most important, especially if they retain long-term marketability.

COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

In the 1990s, African American comics peaked in popularity. Once relegated to a form of children’s entertainment, comic books found an audience with young adults in their twenties to thirties. In fact, in 1990, Cable News Network (CNN) noted that sales of multiracial comics had jumped 9 percent, thus accounting for 10 percent of all comic book sales. One reason for the growth among the African American adult readership is collectibility-since most African American series are short-lived, each issue has the potential to become a rarity. Another reason is the fact that African American comics now better reflect the cultural and artistic concerns of the African American community.

African American characters of yore, often grotesquely drawn by whites, were either sidekicks or afterthoughts—never the stars. For example, Ebony, an African American character, paraded around with white superhero The Spirit in the 1940s. Meanwhile, Captain America had Falcon, his black version of the Lone Ranger’s Native American sidekick Tonto. Other African American characters were portrayed as ignorant, uneducated, and inept at worst. Blatantly stereotypical, most were created and drawn by white males who did not know much about the reality of African Americans. Over the years, the status of African American comic book characters evolved in the same negative ways that whites’ perceptions of blacks did. By the 1960s and 1970s, African Americans were depicted either as drug addicts or Uncle Toms.

True change did not occur until a few enterprising African Americans took matters into their own hands. By 1993, Africa Rising Comics, Afrocentric Books, Dark Zulu Lies, Omega 7 Comics, and UP Comics had created ANIA (the Swahili word for “serve and protect”) Comics under the leadership of Eric Griffin. The group’s goal was to become a major publishing force by pooling their talents. The mainstream comic book publishers responded by producing comic books that featured black characters to capitalize on the market that ANIA’s creators started. Disbanding soon thereafter, ANIA’s existence highlighted the growing line of non-white superheroes. Their titles included Brotherman, Malcolm 10, Heru, Zwanna, Purge, and Ebony Warrior.

In the mid-1990s, Big City Comics produced Brotherman, which revolved around a public defender who also fought crime as “the dictator of discipline.” Omega 7 Inc., founded by Alonzo Washington, a former member of ANIA, is based in Kansas City, Kansas. As of 2002, it was the largest independent African American comic book publisher. Omega 7 Inc. introduced fans to The Original Man, a champion of morality and supporter and protector of African American women The Mighty Ace, with an anti-drug, anti-gang, anti-violence message and Darkforce, a revolutionary African American hero. Other characters include Omega Man, Original Boy, Original Woman, and The Omega 7. Washington develops each comic and writes the storylines.

UP Comics offered Purge, which detailed the trials and tribulations of a man whose sole goal was to rid his city of evil. Lionheart, from Prophesy Comics, also emphasized morality. In a unique twist, Castel Publications came up with The Grammar Patrol, multiethnic heros with a penchant for knowing the rules of speech and writing. Geared towards children, it showed that the medium could be educational as well as entertaining.

Most of these companies were completely African American, from the owners and artists to the storywriters and marketers. Mainstream publishers entered the fray when industry giant DC Comics began distributing Milestone Comics in 1991 as part of their new imprint Milestone Media, formerly an African American-owned, independent publisher run by Derek T. Dingle. With a broad, full-process color system at hand, the company made history as the first major publisher to back African American creators. Among their titles have been Hardware, Blood Syndicate, Icon, Kobalt, Shadow Cabinet, Xombi, and Static, the latter featuring a teen hero who also became an animated television program.

Although the desire to read comic books with African American characters and the number of new African American comic books continued to increase, only between 25 and 30 percent of comic book buyers are minorities. Since the demise of ANIA and many other African American independently owned publishers, it became difficult for African Americans to produce their own publications. The two major comic book publishers, DC Comics and Marvel Comics, have both created several or more African American comic book characters and are not usually open to purchasing outside characters unless they can own them outright. In addition, some of the more popular African American comic book characters have been created by whites, for example, Spawn, Luke Cage, The Black Panther, The Falcon, and Blade (the inspiration for the movies starring Wesley Snipes). Therefore, aspiring African American comic book artists have two options: they can find an independent publisher or self-publish. Since both are usually difficult, many artists opt to work on more established characters, like Superman, Spiderman, or Batman, to ensure their financial stability with the goal of eventually saving enough money to publish their own characters. Two notable exceptions are Alex Simmons, creator of Blackjack and P. Skylar Owens, creator of Knightmare, Team Sexecutioner, and CyJax.


19Media

By the early nineteenth century African Americans began to publish their own books, pamphlets, tracts and newspapers. Educated African Americans wanted to speak for themselves and meet the social and intellectual needs of their own communities. Many African Americans felt that racist writers gave such an inaccurate portrayal of blacks, that it was essential to write and publish their own materials to vindicate themselves. There have been more than 100 publishing houses started by African American churches, individuals, organizations, universities and cultural institutions dating back to this period. The publishing industry in the African American community managed to prosper regardless of the obstacles. Since the inception of African American book publishing, three types of publishers have emerged: religious, institutional, and trade publishers.

RELIGIOUS PUBLISHERS

African American religious denominations established religious publishing enterprises in order to publish works that would provide religious instruction and assist the clergy and laity in recording denominational history. Some religious publishers also released books on secular subjects that celebrated some aspect of African American culture or documented African American history.

Prior to the Civil War, two African American religious publishing enterprises existed. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) organized the AME Book Concern in Philadelphia in 1817—the first African American-owned book publishing enterprise in the United States. Publishing its first book in that same year, The Book of Discipline, the AME Book Concern published a host of classic religious and secular books until its operations were suspended in 1952 by the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1841, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church formed the AME Zion Publishing House New York City in 1940. Both of these denominations published devotionals, Biblical studies and commentaries, church histories and biographies, Sunday School materials and hymnals. The AME Sunday School Union and Publishing House, located in Bloomington, Indiana, began its work with literature for Sunday School students in 1882 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1886.

In Jackson, Tennessee, the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (CME)—known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church—started the CME Publishing House in 1870. The CME Publishing House, which only publishes books on religious subjects, is located in Memphis, Tennessee. The Publishing House states that is fourfold purpose it to disseminate official CME proclamations, to publish and distribute denominational literature, to act as the “literary mind of the church,” to record the church‘s history, safeguard the CME doctrine and to increase loyalty to the church through a fuller knowledge and appreciation of the church’s history.

One of the most successful African American religious publishers to come into existence during the nineteenth century was the National Baptist Publishing Board (NBPB). Under the leadership of Dr. Richard Henry Boyd and the auspices of the National Baptist Convention, USA, the NBPB was organized in Nashville in 1896. By 1913, this well-managed firm, publishing religious and secular books, grew into one of the largest African American-owned businesses in the country. In 1915, however, a dispute arose between the National Baptist Convention, USA, and Dr. Richard Henry Boyd over the ownership of the NBPB. In a legal battle, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided in favor of Boyd. The NBPB—now R.H. Boyd Publishing Corp. in honor of its founder—is owned by the Boyd family. With over 100 years of publishing experience, R. H. Boyd continues to thrive as a religious enterprise by publishing hymnals, Bibles and Sunday School materials as well as books about family, education, and history.

Faced with the loss of the NBPB in 1916, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. established the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., in Nashville. Over the years, this firm developed into one of the largest African American-owned publishing enterprises, publishing religious and secular books and pamphlets.

In 1907, the Church of God in Christ established the Church of God in Christ Publishing House in Memphis. Restricting its publications to religious books and pamphlets, this publisher met the ever-expanding need for religious literature for one of the fastest-growing African American religious denominations.

INSTITUTIONAL PUBLISHERS

During the post-Civil War decades of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century, educational, cultural, social, and political institutions published a variety of materials to meet the specific needs of African Americans.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

Hampton Institute became the first African American educational institution to publish books when the Hampton Institute Press was established in 1871. An active publisher until 1940, the Hampton Institute Press published travel books, poetry, textbooks, songbooks, conference proceedings, and The Southern Workman, one of the leading national African American periodicals published between its inception in 1871 and its demise in 1939. Institutions like Hampton played a vital role in preserving primary and secondary resources related to the history of African Americans in general and these institutions in particular. For example, in 1927 the press published a volume edited by R. Nathaniel Dett entitled Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung at Hampton Institute.

In 1896, the Atlanta University Press entered the book publishing market with the release of Atlanta University Publication Series, which consisted of monographs reporting on the findings of studies conducted by the university’s department of sociology under the direction of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. These works represented some of the earliest studies in urban sociology conducted in the South. The Atlanta University Press remained in operation until 1936. Du Bois was a pioneer not only in African American studies but also in the development of sociological methodology.

Industrial Work of Tuskegee Graduates and Former Students During the Year 1910, compiled by Monroe N. Work (1911), was the first book released by the Tuskegee Institute Press. With the publication of this book and other works by the press, Booker T. Washington sought to publicize the success of Tuskegee’s program to white philanthropists in the North as well as celebrated the achievements of the school‘s alumni. The Tuskegee Institute Press, which was active until 1958, published several other important works including John Kenny’s The Negroes in Medicine (1912) and Lynching by States, 1882–1958 (1958) by Jessie Parkhurst Guzman.

In 1910, another book publishing enterprise was launched on the campus of Tuskegee Institute - the Negro Yearbook Publishing Company. A partnership consisting of Robert E. Park, the famed white sociologist, Emmett J. Scott, secretary to Booker T. Washington, and Monroe N. Work, a sociology professor. This firm published the first edition of The Negro Yearbook in 1912. The most comprehensive reference book to appear to date on African Americans, The Negro Yearbook was highly regarded as the definitive work on statistics and facts on blacks worldwide. The enterprise experienced financial trouble in 1929. The Tuskegee Institute financed its operation until 1952. Between 1912 and 1952, The Negro Yearbook remained a classic model for most general reference works on blacks.

John W. Work’s The Negro and His Song (1915) was the first book issued under the Fisk University Press imprint. During the 1930s and 1940s, when Charles Spurgeon Johnson chaired the university’s department of sociology, Fisk University Press issued several important studies, including E. Franklin Frazier’s The Free Negro Family (1932) The Economic Status of the Negro by Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1933) and People versus Property by Herman Long and Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1947). The last publication released by the Fisk University Press was Build a Future: Addresses Marking the Inauguration of Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1949).

Although the board of trustees of Howard University approved the establishment of a university press on February 17, 1919, no university press existed at the university until 1974. Nonetheless, between 1919 and 1974, several books bearing the “Howard University Press” imprint were published, including The Founding of the School of Medicine of Howard University, 1868–1873 by Walter Dyson (1929) and The Housing of Negroes in Washington, D.C.: A Study in Human Ecology by William H. Jones (1929).

On April 8, 1974, the Howard University Press officially organized as a separate administrative unit within the university. It began with a staff of 12 professionals experienced in book publishing. Its mission remains to support the university by “providing leadership for America and the global community through the publication of noteworthy new scholarship that addresses the contributions, conditions, and concerns of African Americans, other people of African descent, and people of color around the world.” The Press publishes a variety of perspectives and disciplines that advance and deepen knowledge in its areas of focus. These include, but are not limited to: political, economic, and social sciences history health education communications fine arts science and technology literature and drama.

The Howard University Press’s inaugural list of 13 books included such titles as A Poetic Equation: Conversations Between Nikki Giovanni and Margaret Walker (1974) and Saw the House in Half, a Novel by Oliver Jackman (1974). A perpetually popular title is How Europe Under-developed Africa by Walter Rodney, originally published in 1982. Releases since 1999 included: Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory by Carol Pott and John A. Berry Mordecai: The Man and His Message, The Story of Mordecai Wyatt Johnson by Richard I. McKinney Black Writers and Latin America Cross Cultural Affinities by Richard Jackson and The Black Seminole Legacy and North American Politics, 1693–1845 by Bruce Edward Twyman. Two of the press’s popular works which were the direct results of scholarly conferences are Black Bibliophiles and Collectors: Preservers of History edited by Elinor DesVerney Sinnette, W. Paul Coates and Thomas C. Battle (1990) and Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora, edited by Joseph E. Harris, originally published in 1982 but now in its second edition, (1994).

With hundreds of books in print, the Howard University Press-the only African American university press still in existence-continued to flourish as one of the most viable university presses in the country. A popular 2002 volume edited by Elizabeth Clark-Lewis is First Freed: Washington, D.C. in the Emancipation Era. More recent works are A Right Worthy Grand Mission: Maggie Lena Walker and the Quest for Black Economic Empowerment (2003)and Dr. LeSalle D. Leffall, Jr., No Boundaries: A Cancer Surgeon’s Odyssey, (2005).

CULTURAL AND PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS

African American cultural and professional organizations and institutions have also developed publishing programs that include book publishing. The books published by these organizations document areas of African American history and depict various aspects of African American culture.

The need to demonstrate that blacks could excel in literature, arts and sciences led to the formation of the American Negro Academy on March 5, 1897 by Reverend Alexander Crummell, nineteenth century African American scholar, clergyman, and missionary. The American Negro Academy had as its major purpose the production of scholarly works assisting youth in attainments reflecting higher culture the dissemination of truth and the “vindication of the Negro” through raising the level of intellectual pursuits. The Academy quickly organized a publishing program that embraced book publishing. The Academy, whose membership included many of the foremost African American intellectuals of the day, released 21 occasional papers as pamphlets and monographs. Some of these are Crummell’s “Civilization, the Primal Need of the Race,” (1897), Charles C. Cook, “Comparative Study of the Negro Problem,” (1899) and Archibald Grimke, “Ballotless Victim of One-Party Governments,” 1913. All twenty-two of the papers are available in print from Arno Press, (1969). The American Negro Academy ceased to exist in 1928.

The Association for the Study of African-American History (formerly Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and, originally the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History-began publishing the Journal of African American History (originally the Journal of Negro History) in 1916 and started its book publishing program in 1918. By 1940, the association had published 28 books. After that year, the book publishing activities of the association declined until 1950, when its founder Carter G. Woodson died and provided in his will for the transfer of the Associated Publishers, Inc. to the association. The most enduring work of the press is probably, The Mis-education of the Negro published by Associated Press in 1933. One of Woodson’s famous quotes from the work is:

When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ’proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.

Howard University philosophy professor Alain Locke organized the Associates of Negro Folk Education in Washington, D.C., with a grant from the American Adult Education Association. The Associates published a series of seven books known as the Bronze Booklets from 1935 to 1940. Written by black scholars on various aspects of African American life and edited by Locke, some of the titles included: A World View of Race by Nobel laureate Ralph J. Bunche (1936) The Negro and Economic Reconstruction by T. Arnold Hill (1937) and Negro Poetry and Drama by Sterling Brown (1937).

CIVIL RIGHTS, SOCIAL WELFARE, AND POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS

In 1913, five years after its founding, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched its publishing program with three books: A Child’s Story of Dunbar by Julia L. Henderson Norris Wright Cuney by Maude Cuney Hare and Hazel by Mary White Ovington. In 1914, George Williamson Crawford’s Prince Hall and His Followers appeared, and in 1919, Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889 1918 was released. After 1919, the NAACP published few books, with the organization limiting its publishing to pamphlets, its annual reports, and Crisis, a bimonthly magazine.

Crisis, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois from its inception in 1910 to 1934, gained success was phenomenal popularity, Du Bois later wrote. Circulation rose from several thousand monthly to 50,000 by 1917, peaking finally at more than 100,000 in 1919. Many credit Du Bois and his editorship of the Crisis to the immediate popularity of the NAACP. Today the magazine remains dedicated to discussing critical issues confronting people of color, American society, and the world. In addition, it highlights the historical and cultural achievements of these diverse peoples. Through essays, interviews, and in-depth reporting, writers explore past and present issues concerning race and its impact on educational, economic, political, social, moral, and ethical issues. Each issue is also highlighted with a special section, “The NAACP Today,” which reports on the news and events of the organization on a local and national level.

In contrast, the National Urban League (NUL) has been a very active book publisher. The League first embarked on book publishing in 1927 when it published Ebony and Topaz, an anthology of Harlem Renaissance writers, poets, and artists edited by Charles Spurgeon Johnson. Through the years, NUL released numerous sociological and economic studies on the plight of African Americans, including Negro Membership in Labor Unions (1930), Race, Fear and Housing in a Typical American Community (1946), and Power of the Ballot: A Handbook for Black Political Participation (1973). In addition to these monographs, the organization began publishing The State of Black America in 1976. The State of Black America is the annual Urban League report that addresses the issues central to Black America in the current year. The publication is a barometer of the conditions, experiences and opinions of Black America. It examines black progress in education, homeownership, entrepreneurship, health and other areas. The publication forecasts certain social and political trends and proposes solutions to the community’s and America’s most pressing challenges. Newer works include Crime and Justice in Black America by Christopher E. Stone (1999) a special report entitled The Impact of Social Security on Child Poverty by Valerie A. Rawlston (2000) and The Urban League’s Assessment of the President’s Education Plan (2001) by Hugh B. Price, NAACP President and CEO.

The State of Black America 2006 report was compiled and analyzed against the backdrop Hurricanes Katrina and Rita The 2006 report stated that Black Americans continued to hover at 0.73 of the status of White Americans.

The publishing program of the Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League focused on the publication of its newspaper, The Negro World. The motto of the U.N.I.A. was “One God! One Aim! One Destiny.” The Negro World was a weekly newspaper founded in 1918 was published in French and Spanish as well as English. In it African history and heroes were glorified. The UNIA also published two volumes called The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, which were compiled and edited by Amy Jacques-Garvey from 1923 to 1925.

COMMERCIAL PUBLISHERS

Until the 1960s, most African American commercial book publishing enterprises were short-lived. Two exceptions to this phenomenon existed, however: Broadside Press in Detroit and Third World Press in Chicago. Established by Dudley Randall in 1965, Broadside Press, which remains active, published poetry by African American authors-many of whom became icons later in life-such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Danner, Robert Hayden, Langston Hughes, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Don L. Lee (Haki R. Madhubuti), Sonia Sanchez, Melvin Tolson, and Margaret Walker. Following in the footsteps of Randall, in 1967, Haki Madhubuti founded Third World Press. Third World Press is now the oldest continually-operating African American commercial book publisher in the United States. In 1969, Dempsey Travis founded Urban Research Press.

Over the years, African American publishers have learned that a sizable African American readership exists. Since 1970 several major African American publishers have emerged. In 1978, Black Classic Press was founded by librarian Paul Coates to publish obscure, but significant, works by and about people of African descent. In 1981, Open Hand Publishing Inc. was founded by Anna Johnson.

Inspired by the dearth of books for his courses, former Rutgers University African Studies instructor Kassahun Checole founded the Africa World Press in 1983 to publish material on the economic, political, and social development of Africa. By the end of the twentieth century, African World Press, which published nearly 60 titles annually, was the premier publisher of books on African, African American, Caribbean, and Latin American issues. Its sister company, Red Sea Press, established in 1985, was one of the largest distributors of material by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

Just Us Books, Inc., founded by writer Wade Hudson and graphic artist Cheryl Willis Hudson, publishes books and educational material for children that focus on the African American experience. The idea to start the company first came to Cheryl in 1976, when she was unable to find African American images to decorate her daughter’s nursery. Just Us Books published its first book in 1988—an alphabet book featuring African American children posed to create the letters. The company had sales of $1.6 million in its 2002 fiscal year. Diaspora Press of America, which publishes African American Diasporic folktales, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children’s stories and Amber Books, which publishes self-help and career-guide books the 1995.

Independent African American-owned book stores have benefitted from a resurgence of African American authors and an abundance of titles, but major bookstore chains make competition stiff. Although African Americans’ book buying grew from $181 million in 1990 to $296 million in 1995, with the decline in hardcover sales, publishers were more cautious about placing books with specialty stores for fear that a book would lose mainstream appeal.

With the increasing demand for African American–oriented books, especially those written by African Americans, two diverging opinions arose from the African American literary community. Some believed that the creation of imprints like Strivers Row (Villard/Random House), Amistad (HarperCollins), Harlem Moon (Random House), and Dafina Books (Kensington) diminished the opportunity to showcase different genres. Furthermore, this faction insisted that African American books published by major white companies were too formulaic. Others believed that the abundance of African American books allowed for all kinds of literature thus, ultimately increasing the number of African American authors published each year. Although the two groups disagreed on the quality of African American literature being published, both agreed that the proliferation of African American writers and the subsequent successful sales of their titles were most important, especially if they retain long-term marketability.

COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

In the 1990s, African American comics peaked in popularity. Once relegated to a form of children’s entertainment, comic books found an audience with young adults in their twenties to thirties. In fact, in 1990, Cable News Network (CNN) noted that sales of multiracial comics had jumped 9 percent, thus accounting for 10 percent of all comic book sales. One reason for the growth among the African American adult readership is collectibility-since most African American series are short-lived, each issue has the potential to become a rarity. Another reason is the fact that African American comics now better reflect the cultural and artistic concerns of the African American community.

African American characters of yore, often grotesquely drawn by whites, were either sidekicks or afterthoughts—never the stars. For example, Ebony, an African American character, paraded around with white superhero The Spirit in the 1940s. Meanwhile, Captain America had Falcon, his black version of the Lone Ranger’s Native American sidekick Tonto. Other African American characters were portrayed as ignorant, uneducated, and inept at worst. Blatantly stereotypical, most were created and drawn by white males who did not know much about the reality of African Americans. Over the years, the status of African American comic book characters evolved in the same negative ways that whites’ perceptions of blacks did. By the 1960s and 1970s, African Americans were depicted either as drug addicts or Uncle Toms.

True change did not occur until a few enterprising African Americans took matters into their own hands. By 1993, Africa Rising Comics, Afrocentric Books, Dark Zulu Lies, Omega 7 Comics, and UP Comics had created ANIA (the Swahili word for “serve and protect”) Comics under the leadership of Eric Griffin. The group’s goal was to become a major publishing force by pooling their talents. The mainstream comic book publishers responded by producing comic books that featured black characters to capitalize on the market that ANIA’s creators started. Disbanding soon thereafter, ANIA’s existence highlighted the growing line of non-white superheroes. Their titles included Brotherman, Malcolm 10, Heru, Zwanna, Purge, and Ebony Warrior.

In the mid-1990s, Big City Comics produced Brotherman, which revolved around a public defender who also fought crime as “the dictator of discipline.” Omega 7 Inc., founded by Alonzo Washington, a former member of ANIA, is based in Kansas City, Kansas. As of 2002, it was the largest independent African American comic book publisher. Omega 7 Inc. introduced fans to The Original Man, a champion of morality and supporter and protector of African American women The Mighty Ace, with an anti-drug, anti-gang, anti-violence message and Darkforce, a revolutionary African American hero. Other characters include Omega Man, Original Boy, Original Woman, and The Omega 7. Washington develops each comic and writes the storylines.

UP Comics offered Purge, which detailed the trials and tribulations of a man whose sole goal was to rid his city of evil. Lionheart, from Prophesy Comics, also emphasized morality. In a unique twist, Castel Publications came up with The Grammar Patrol, multiethnic heros with a penchant for knowing the rules of speech and writing. Geared towards children, it showed that the medium could be educational as well as entertaining.

Most of these companies were completely African American, from the owners and artists to the storywriters and marketers. Mainstream publishers entered the fray when industry giant DC Comics began distributing Milestone Comics in 1991 as part of their new imprint Milestone Media, formerly an African American-owned, independent publisher run by Derek T. Dingle. With a broad, full-process color system at hand, the company made history as the first major publisher to back African American creators. Among their titles have been Hardware, Blood Syndicate, Icon, Kobalt, Shadow Cabinet, Xombi, and Static, the latter featuring a teen hero who also became an animated television program.

Although the desire to read comic books with African American characters and the number of new African American comic books continued to increase, only between 25 and 30 percent of comic book buyers are minorities. Since the demise of ANIA and many other African American independently owned publishers, it became difficult for African Americans to produce their own publications. The two major comic book publishers, DC Comics and Marvel Comics, have both created several or more African American comic book characters and are not usually open to purchasing outside characters unless they can own them outright. In addition, some of the more popular African American comic book characters have been created by whites, for example, Spawn, Luke Cage, The Black Panther, The Falcon, and Blade (the inspiration for the movies starring Wesley Snipes). Therefore, aspiring African American comic book artists have two options: they can find an independent publisher or self-publish. Since both are usually difficult, many artists opt to work on more established characters, like Superman, Spiderman, or Batman, to ensure their financial stability with the goal of eventually saving enough money to publish their own characters. Two notable exceptions are Alex Simmons, creator of Blackjack and P. Skylar Owens, creator of Knightmare, Team Sexecutioner, and CyJax.


19Media

By the early nineteenth century African Americans began to publish their own books, pamphlets, tracts and newspapers. Educated African Americans wanted to speak for themselves and meet the social and intellectual needs of their own communities. Many African Americans felt that racist writers gave such an inaccurate portrayal of blacks, that it was essential to write and publish their own materials to vindicate themselves. There have been more than 100 publishing houses started by African American churches, individuals, organizations, universities and cultural institutions dating back to this period. The publishing industry in the African American community managed to prosper regardless of the obstacles. Since the inception of African American book publishing, three types of publishers have emerged: religious, institutional, and trade publishers.

RELIGIOUS PUBLISHERS

African American religious denominations established religious publishing enterprises in order to publish works that would provide religious instruction and assist the clergy and laity in recording denominational history. Some religious publishers also released books on secular subjects that celebrated some aspect of African American culture or documented African American history.

Prior to the Civil War, two African American religious publishing enterprises existed. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) organized the AME Book Concern in Philadelphia in 1817—the first African American-owned book publishing enterprise in the United States. Publishing its first book in that same year, The Book of Discipline, the AME Book Concern published a host of classic religious and secular books until its operations were suspended in 1952 by the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1841, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church formed the AME Zion Publishing House New York City in 1940. Both of these denominations published devotionals, Biblical studies and commentaries, church histories and biographies, Sunday School materials and hymnals. The AME Sunday School Union and Publishing House, located in Bloomington, Indiana, began its work with literature for Sunday School students in 1882 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1886.

In Jackson, Tennessee, the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (CME)—known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church—started the CME Publishing House in 1870. The CME Publishing House, which only publishes books on religious subjects, is located in Memphis, Tennessee. The Publishing House states that is fourfold purpose it to disseminate official CME proclamations, to publish and distribute denominational literature, to act as the “literary mind of the church,” to record the church‘s history, safeguard the CME doctrine and to increase loyalty to the church through a fuller knowledge and appreciation of the church’s history.

One of the most successful African American religious publishers to come into existence during the nineteenth century was the National Baptist Publishing Board (NBPB). Under the leadership of Dr. Richard Henry Boyd and the auspices of the National Baptist Convention, USA, the NBPB was organized in Nashville in 1896. By 1913, this well-managed firm, publishing religious and secular books, grew into one of the largest African American-owned businesses in the country. In 1915, however, a dispute arose between the National Baptist Convention, USA, and Dr. Richard Henry Boyd over the ownership of the NBPB. In a legal battle, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided in favor of Boyd. The NBPB—now R.H. Boyd Publishing Corp. in honor of its founder—is owned by the Boyd family. With over 100 years of publishing experience, R. H. Boyd continues to thrive as a religious enterprise by publishing hymnals, Bibles and Sunday School materials as well as books about family, education, and history.

Faced with the loss of the NBPB in 1916, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. established the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., in Nashville. Over the years, this firm developed into one of the largest African American-owned publishing enterprises, publishing religious and secular books and pamphlets.

In 1907, the Church of God in Christ established the Church of God in Christ Publishing House in Memphis. Restricting its publications to religious books and pamphlets, this publisher met the ever-expanding need for religious literature for one of the fastest-growing African American religious denominations.

INSTITUTIONAL PUBLISHERS

During the post-Civil War decades of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century, educational, cultural, social, and political institutions published a variety of materials to meet the specific needs of African Americans.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

Hampton Institute became the first African American educational institution to publish books when the Hampton Institute Press was established in 1871. An active publisher until 1940, the Hampton Institute Press published travel books, poetry, textbooks, songbooks, conference proceedings, and The Southern Workman, one of the leading national African American periodicals published between its inception in 1871 and its demise in 1939. Institutions like Hampton played a vital role in preserving primary and secondary resources related to the history of African Americans in general and these institutions in particular. For example, in 1927 the press published a volume edited by R. Nathaniel Dett entitled Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung at Hampton Institute.

In 1896, the Atlanta University Press entered the book publishing market with the release of Atlanta University Publication Series, which consisted of monographs reporting on the findings of studies conducted by the university’s department of sociology under the direction of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. These works represented some of the earliest studies in urban sociology conducted in the South. The Atlanta University Press remained in operation until 1936. Du Bois was a pioneer not only in African American studies but also in the development of sociological methodology.

Industrial Work of Tuskegee Graduates and Former Students During the Year 1910, compiled by Monroe N. Work (1911), was the first book released by the Tuskegee Institute Press. With the publication of this book and other works by the press, Booker T. Washington sought to publicize the success of Tuskegee’s program to white philanthropists in the North as well as celebrated the achievements of the school‘s alumni. The Tuskegee Institute Press, which was active until 1958, published several other important works including John Kenny’s The Negroes in Medicine (1912) and Lynching by States, 1882–1958 (1958) by Jessie Parkhurst Guzman.

In 1910, another book publishing enterprise was launched on the campus of Tuskegee Institute - the Negro Yearbook Publishing Company. A partnership consisting of Robert E. Park, the famed white sociologist, Emmett J. Scott, secretary to Booker T. Washington, and Monroe N. Work, a sociology professor. This firm published the first edition of The Negro Yearbook in 1912. The most comprehensive reference book to appear to date on African Americans, The Negro Yearbook was highly regarded as the definitive work on statistics and facts on blacks worldwide. The enterprise experienced financial trouble in 1929. The Tuskegee Institute financed its operation until 1952. Between 1912 and 1952, The Negro Yearbook remained a classic model for most general reference works on blacks.

John W. Work’s The Negro and His Song (1915) was the first book issued under the Fisk University Press imprint. During the 1930s and 1940s, when Charles Spurgeon Johnson chaired the university’s department of sociology, Fisk University Press issued several important studies, including E. Franklin Frazier’s The Free Negro Family (1932) The Economic Status of the Negro by Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1933) and People versus Property by Herman Long and Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1947). The last publication released by the Fisk University Press was Build a Future: Addresses Marking the Inauguration of Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1949).

Although the board of trustees of Howard University approved the establishment of a university press on February 17, 1919, no university press existed at the university until 1974. Nonetheless, between 1919 and 1974, several books bearing the “Howard University Press” imprint were published, including The Founding of the School of Medicine of Howard University, 1868–1873 by Walter Dyson (1929) and The Housing of Negroes in Washington, D.C.: A Study in Human Ecology by William H. Jones (1929).

On April 8, 1974, the Howard University Press officially organized as a separate administrative unit within the university. It began with a staff of 12 professionals experienced in book publishing. Its mission remains to support the university by “providing leadership for America and the global community through the publication of noteworthy new scholarship that addresses the contributions, conditions, and concerns of African Americans, other people of African descent, and people of color around the world.” The Press publishes a variety of perspectives and disciplines that advance and deepen knowledge in its areas of focus. These include, but are not limited to: political, economic, and social sciences history health education communications fine arts science and technology literature and drama.

The Howard University Press’s inaugural list of 13 books included such titles as A Poetic Equation: Conversations Between Nikki Giovanni and Margaret Walker (1974) and Saw the House in Half, a Novel by Oliver Jackman (1974). A perpetually popular title is How Europe Under-developed Africa by Walter Rodney, originally published in 1982. Releases since 1999 included: Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory by Carol Pott and John A. Berry Mordecai: The Man and His Message, The Story of Mordecai Wyatt Johnson by Richard I. McKinney Black Writers and Latin America Cross Cultural Affinities by Richard Jackson and The Black Seminole Legacy and North American Politics, 1693–1845 by Bruce Edward Twyman. Two of the press’s popular works which were the direct results of scholarly conferences are Black Bibliophiles and Collectors: Preservers of History edited by Elinor DesVerney Sinnette, W. Paul Coates and Thomas C. Battle (1990) and Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora, edited by Joseph E. Harris, originally published in 1982 but now in its second edition, (1994).

With hundreds of books in print, the Howard University Press-the only African American university press still in existence-continued to flourish as one of the most viable university presses in the country. A popular 2002 volume edited by Elizabeth Clark-Lewis is First Freed: Washington, D.C. in the Emancipation Era. More recent works are A Right Worthy Grand Mission: Maggie Lena Walker and the Quest for Black Economic Empowerment (2003)and Dr. LeSalle D. Leffall, Jr., No Boundaries: A Cancer Surgeon’s Odyssey, (2005).

CULTURAL AND PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS

African American cultural and professional organizations and institutions have also developed publishing programs that include book publishing. The books published by these organizations document areas of African American history and depict various aspects of African American culture.

The need to demonstrate that blacks could excel in literature, arts and sciences led to the formation of the American Negro Academy on March 5, 1897 by Reverend Alexander Crummell, nineteenth century African American scholar, clergyman, and missionary. The American Negro Academy had as its major purpose the production of scholarly works assisting youth in attainments reflecting higher culture the dissemination of truth and the “vindication of the Negro” through raising the level of intellectual pursuits. The Academy quickly organized a publishing program that embraced book publishing. The Academy, whose membership included many of the foremost African American intellectuals of the day, released 21 occasional papers as pamphlets and monographs. Some of these are Crummell’s “Civilization, the Primal Need of the Race,” (1897), Charles C. Cook, “Comparative Study of the Negro Problem,” (1899) and Archibald Grimke, “Ballotless Victim of One-Party Governments,” 1913. All twenty-two of the papers are available in print from Arno Press, (1969). The American Negro Academy ceased to exist in 1928.

The Association for the Study of African-American History (formerly Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and, originally the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History-began publishing the Journal of African American History (originally the Journal of Negro History) in 1916 and started its book publishing program in 1918. By 1940, the association had published 28 books. After that year, the book publishing activities of the association declined until 1950, when its founder Carter G. Woodson died and provided in his will for the transfer of the Associated Publishers, Inc. to the association. The most enduring work of the press is probably, The Mis-education of the Negro published by Associated Press in 1933. One of Woodson’s famous quotes from the work is:

When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ’proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.

Howard University philosophy professor Alain Locke organized the Associates of Negro Folk Education in Washington, D.C., with a grant from the American Adult Education Association. The Associates published a series of seven books known as the Bronze Booklets from 1935 to 1940. Written by black scholars on various aspects of African American life and edited by Locke, some of the titles included: A World View of Race by Nobel laureate Ralph J. Bunche (1936) The Negro and Economic Reconstruction by T. Arnold Hill (1937) and Negro Poetry and Drama by Sterling Brown (1937).

CIVIL RIGHTS, SOCIAL WELFARE, AND POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS

In 1913, five years after its founding, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched its publishing program with three books: A Child’s Story of Dunbar by Julia L. Henderson Norris Wright Cuney by Maude Cuney Hare and Hazel by Mary White Ovington. In 1914, George Williamson Crawford’s Prince Hall and His Followers appeared, and in 1919, Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889 1918 was released. After 1919, the NAACP published few books, with the organization limiting its publishing to pamphlets, its annual reports, and Crisis, a bimonthly magazine.

Crisis, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois from its inception in 1910 to 1934, gained success was phenomenal popularity, Du Bois later wrote. Circulation rose from several thousand monthly to 50,000 by 1917, peaking finally at more than 100,000 in 1919. Many credit Du Bois and his editorship of the Crisis to the immediate popularity of the NAACP. Today the magazine remains dedicated to discussing critical issues confronting people of color, American society, and the world. In addition, it highlights the historical and cultural achievements of these diverse peoples. Through essays, interviews, and in-depth reporting, writers explore past and present issues concerning race and its impact on educational, economic, political, social, moral, and ethical issues. Each issue is also highlighted with a special section, “The NAACP Today,” which reports on the news and events of the organization on a local and national level.

In contrast, the National Urban League (NUL) has been a very active book publisher. The League first embarked on book publishing in 1927 when it published Ebony and Topaz, an anthology of Harlem Renaissance writers, poets, and artists edited by Charles Spurgeon Johnson. Through the years, NUL released numerous sociological and economic studies on the plight of African Americans, including Negro Membership in Labor Unions (1930), Race, Fear and Housing in a Typical American Community (1946), and Power of the Ballot: A Handbook for Black Political Participation (1973). In addition to these monographs, the organization began publishing The State of Black America in 1976. The State of Black America is the annual Urban League report that addresses the issues central to Black America in the current year. The publication is a barometer of the conditions, experiences and opinions of Black America. It examines black progress in education, homeownership, entrepreneurship, health and other areas. The publication forecasts certain social and political trends and proposes solutions to the community’s and America’s most pressing challenges. Newer works include Crime and Justice in Black America by Christopher E. Stone (1999) a special report entitled The Impact of Social Security on Child Poverty by Valerie A. Rawlston (2000) and The Urban League’s Assessment of the President’s Education Plan (2001) by Hugh B. Price, NAACP President and CEO.

The State of Black America 2006 report was compiled and analyzed against the backdrop Hurricanes Katrina and Rita The 2006 report stated that Black Americans continued to hover at 0.73 of the status of White Americans.

The publishing program of the Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League focused on the publication of its newspaper, The Negro World. The motto of the U.N.I.A. was “One God! One Aim! One Destiny.” The Negro World was a weekly newspaper founded in 1918 was published in French and Spanish as well as English. In it African history and heroes were glorified. The UNIA also published two volumes called The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, which were compiled and edited by Amy Jacques-Garvey from 1923 to 1925.

COMMERCIAL PUBLISHERS

Until the 1960s, most African American commercial book publishing enterprises were short-lived. Two exceptions to this phenomenon existed, however: Broadside Press in Detroit and Third World Press in Chicago. Established by Dudley Randall in 1965, Broadside Press, which remains active, published poetry by African American authors-many of whom became icons later in life-such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Danner, Robert Hayden, Langston Hughes, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Don L. Lee (Haki R. Madhubuti), Sonia Sanchez, Melvin Tolson, and Margaret Walker. Following in the footsteps of Randall, in 1967, Haki Madhubuti founded Third World Press. Third World Press is now the oldest continually-operating African American commercial book publisher in the United States. In 1969, Dempsey Travis founded Urban Research Press.

Over the years, African American publishers have learned that a sizable African American readership exists. Since 1970 several major African American publishers have emerged. In 1978, Black Classic Press was founded by librarian Paul Coates to publish obscure, but significant, works by and about people of African descent. In 1981, Open Hand Publishing Inc. was founded by Anna Johnson.

Inspired by the dearth of books for his courses, former Rutgers University African Studies instructor Kassahun Checole founded the Africa World Press in 1983 to publish material on the economic, political, and social development of Africa. By the end of the twentieth century, African World Press, which published nearly 60 titles annually, was the premier publisher of books on African, African American, Caribbean, and Latin American issues. Its sister company, Red Sea Press, established in 1985, was one of the largest distributors of material by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

Just Us Books, Inc., founded by writer Wade Hudson and graphic artist Cheryl Willis Hudson, publishes books and educational material for children that focus on the African American experience. The idea to start the company first came to Cheryl in 1976, when she was unable to find African American images to decorate her daughter’s nursery. Just Us Books published its first book in 1988—an alphabet book featuring African American children posed to create the letters. The company had sales of $1.6 million in its 2002 fiscal year. Diaspora Press of America, which publishes African American Diasporic folktales, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children’s stories and Amber Books, which publishes self-help and career-guide books the 1995.

Independent African American-owned book stores have benefitted from a resurgence of African American authors and an abundance of titles, but major bookstore chains make competition stiff. Although African Americans’ book buying grew from $181 million in 1990 to $296 million in 1995, with the decline in hardcover sales, publishers were more cautious about placing books with specialty stores for fear that a book would lose mainstream appeal.

With the increasing demand for African American–oriented books, especially those written by African Americans, two diverging opinions arose from the African American literary community. Some believed that the creation of imprints like Strivers Row (Villard/Random House), Amistad (HarperCollins), Harlem Moon (Random House), and Dafina Books (Kensington) diminished the opportunity to showcase different genres. Furthermore, this faction insisted that African American books published by major white companies were too formulaic. Others believed that the abundance of African American books allowed for all kinds of literature thus, ultimately increasing the number of African American authors published each year. Although the two groups disagreed on the quality of African American literature being published, both agreed that the proliferation of African American writers and the subsequent successful sales of their titles were most important, especially if they retain long-term marketability.

COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

In the 1990s, African American comics peaked in popularity. Once relegated to a form of children’s entertainment, comic books found an audience with young adults in their twenties to thirties. In fact, in 1990, Cable News Network (CNN) noted that sales of multiracial comics had jumped 9 percent, thus accounting for 10 percent of all comic book sales. One reason for the growth among the African American adult readership is collectibility-since most African American series are short-lived, each issue has the potential to become a rarity. Another reason is the fact that African American comics now better reflect the cultural and artistic concerns of the African American community.

African American characters of yore, often grotesquely drawn by whites, were either sidekicks or afterthoughts—never the stars. For example, Ebony, an African American character, paraded around with white superhero The Spirit in the 1940s. Meanwhile, Captain America had Falcon, his black version of the Lone Ranger’s Native American sidekick Tonto. Other African American characters were portrayed as ignorant, uneducated, and inept at worst. Blatantly stereotypical, most were created and drawn by white males who did not know much about the reality of African Americans. Over the years, the status of African American comic book characters evolved in the same negative ways that whites’ perceptions of blacks did. By the 1960s and 1970s, African Americans were depicted either as drug addicts or Uncle Toms.

True change did not occur until a few enterprising African Americans took matters into their own hands. By 1993, Africa Rising Comics, Afrocentric Books, Dark Zulu Lies, Omega 7 Comics, and UP Comics had created ANIA (the Swahili word for “serve and protect”) Comics under the leadership of Eric Griffin. The group’s goal was to become a major publishing force by pooling their talents. The mainstream comic book publishers responded by producing comic books that featured black characters to capitalize on the market that ANIA’s creators started. Disbanding soon thereafter, ANIA’s existence highlighted the growing line of non-white superheroes. Their titles included Brotherman, Malcolm 10, Heru, Zwanna, Purge, and Ebony Warrior.

In the mid-1990s, Big City Comics produced Brotherman, which revolved around a public defender who also fought crime as “the dictator of discipline.” Omega 7 Inc., founded by Alonzo Washington, a former member of ANIA, is based in Kansas City, Kansas. As of 2002, it was the largest independent African American comic book publisher. Omega 7 Inc. introduced fans to The Original Man, a champion of morality and supporter and protector of African American women The Mighty Ace, with an anti-drug, anti-gang, anti-violence message and Darkforce, a revolutionary African American hero. Other characters include Omega Man, Original Boy, Original Woman, and The Omega 7. Washington develops each comic and writes the storylines.

UP Comics offered Purge, which detailed the trials and tribulations of a man whose sole goal was to rid his city of evil. Lionheart, from Prophesy Comics, also emphasized morality. In a unique twist, Castel Publications came up with The Grammar Patrol, multiethnic heros with a penchant for knowing the rules of speech and writing. Geared towards children, it showed that the medium could be educational as well as entertaining.

Most of these companies were completely African American, from the owners and artists to the storywriters and marketers. Mainstream publishers entered the fray when industry giant DC Comics began distributing Milestone Comics in 1991 as part of their new imprint Milestone Media, formerly an African American-owned, independent publisher run by Derek T. Dingle. With a broad, full-process color system at hand, the company made history as the first major publisher to back African American creators. Among their titles have been Hardware, Blood Syndicate, Icon, Kobalt, Shadow Cabinet, Xombi, and Static, the latter featuring a teen hero who also became an animated television program.

Although the desire to read comic books with African American characters and the number of new African American comic books continued to increase, only between 25 and 30 percent of comic book buyers are minorities. Since the demise of ANIA and many other African American independently owned publishers, it became difficult for African Americans to produce their own publications. The two major comic book publishers, DC Comics and Marvel Comics, have both created several or more African American comic book characters and are not usually open to purchasing outside characters unless they can own them outright. In addition, some of the more popular African American comic book characters have been created by whites, for example, Spawn, Luke Cage, The Black Panther, The Falcon, and Blade (the inspiration for the movies starring Wesley Snipes). Therefore, aspiring African American comic book artists have two options: they can find an independent publisher or self-publish. Since both are usually difficult, many artists opt to work on more established characters, like Superman, Spiderman, or Batman, to ensure their financial stability with the goal of eventually saving enough money to publish their own characters. Two notable exceptions are Alex Simmons, creator of Blackjack and P. Skylar Owens, creator of Knightmare, Team Sexecutioner, and CyJax.


19Media

By the early nineteenth century African Americans began to publish their own books, pamphlets, tracts and newspapers. Educated African Americans wanted to speak for themselves and meet the social and intellectual needs of their own communities. Many African Americans felt that racist writers gave such an inaccurate portrayal of blacks, that it was essential to write and publish their own materials to vindicate themselves. There have been more than 100 publishing houses started by African American churches, individuals, organizations, universities and cultural institutions dating back to this period. The publishing industry in the African American community managed to prosper regardless of the obstacles. Since the inception of African American book publishing, three types of publishers have emerged: religious, institutional, and trade publishers.

RELIGIOUS PUBLISHERS

African American religious denominations established religious publishing enterprises in order to publish works that would provide religious instruction and assist the clergy and laity in recording denominational history. Some religious publishers also released books on secular subjects that celebrated some aspect of African American culture or documented African American history.

Prior to the Civil War, two African American religious publishing enterprises existed. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) organized the AME Book Concern in Philadelphia in 1817—the first African American-owned book publishing enterprise in the United States. Publishing its first book in that same year, The Book of Discipline, the AME Book Concern published a host of classic religious and secular books until its operations were suspended in 1952 by the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1841, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church formed the AME Zion Publishing House New York City in 1940. Both of these denominations published devotionals, Biblical studies and commentaries, church histories and biographies, Sunday School materials and hymnals. The AME Sunday School Union and Publishing House, located in Bloomington, Indiana, began its work with literature for Sunday School students in 1882 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1886.

In Jackson, Tennessee, the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (CME)—known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church—started the CME Publishing House in 1870. The CME Publishing House, which only publishes books on religious subjects, is located in Memphis, Tennessee. The Publishing House states that is fourfold purpose it to disseminate official CME proclamations, to publish and distribute denominational literature, to act as the “literary mind of the church,” to record the church‘s history, safeguard the CME doctrine and to increase loyalty to the church through a fuller knowledge and appreciation of the church’s history.

One of the most successful African American religious publishers to come into existence during the nineteenth century was the National Baptist Publishing Board (NBPB). Under the leadership of Dr. Richard Henry Boyd and the auspices of the National Baptist Convention, USA, the NBPB was organized in Nashville in 1896. By 1913, this well-managed firm, publishing religious and secular books, grew into one of the largest African American-owned businesses in the country. In 1915, however, a dispute arose between the National Baptist Convention, USA, and Dr. Richard Henry Boyd over the ownership of the NBPB. In a legal battle, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided in favor of Boyd. The NBPB—now R.H. Boyd Publishing Corp. in honor of its founder—is owned by the Boyd family. With over 100 years of publishing experience, R. H. Boyd continues to thrive as a religious enterprise by publishing hymnals, Bibles and Sunday School materials as well as books about family, education, and history.

Faced with the loss of the NBPB in 1916, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. established the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., in Nashville. Over the years, this firm developed into one of the largest African American-owned publishing enterprises, publishing religious and secular books and pamphlets.

In 1907, the Church of God in Christ established the Church of God in Christ Publishing House in Memphis. Restricting its publications to religious books and pamphlets, this publisher met the ever-expanding need for religious literature for one of the fastest-growing African American religious denominations.

INSTITUTIONAL PUBLISHERS

During the post-Civil War decades of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century, educational, cultural, social, and political institutions published a variety of materials to meet the specific needs of African Americans.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

Hampton Institute became the first African American educational institution to publish books when the Hampton Institute Press was established in 1871. An active publisher until 1940, the Hampton Institute Press published travel books, poetry, textbooks, songbooks, conference proceedings, and The Southern Workman, one of the leading national African American periodicals published between its inception in 1871 and its demise in 1939. Institutions like Hampton played a vital role in preserving primary and secondary resources related to the history of African Americans in general and these institutions in particular. For example, in 1927 the press published a volume edited by R. Nathaniel Dett entitled Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung at Hampton Institute.

In 1896, the Atlanta University Press entered the book publishing market with the release of Atlanta University Publication Series, which consisted of monographs reporting on the findings of studies conducted by the university’s department of sociology under the direction of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. These works represented some of the earliest studies in urban sociology conducted in the South. The Atlanta University Press remained in operation until 1936. Du Bois was a pioneer not only in African American studies but also in the development of sociological methodology.

Industrial Work of Tuskegee Graduates and Former Students During the Year 1910, compiled by Monroe N. Work (1911), was the first book released by the Tuskegee Institute Press. With the publication of this book and other works by the press, Booker T. Washington sought to publicize the success of Tuskegee’s program to white philanthropists in the North as well as celebrated the achievements of the school‘s alumni. The Tuskegee Institute Press, which was active until 1958, published several other important works including John Kenny’s The Negroes in Medicine (1912) and Lynching by States, 1882–1958 (1958) by Jessie Parkhurst Guzman.

In 1910, another book publishing enterprise was launched on the campus of Tuskegee Institute - the Negro Yearbook Publishing Company. A partnership consisting of Robert E. Park, the famed white sociologist, Emmett J. Scott, secretary to Booker T. Washington, and Monroe N. Work, a sociology professor. This firm published the first edition of The Negro Yearbook in 1912. The most comprehensive reference book to appear to date on African Americans, The Negro Yearbook was highly regarded as the definitive work on statistics and facts on blacks worldwide. The enterprise experienced financial trouble in 1929. The Tuskegee Institute financed its operation until 1952. Between 1912 and 1952, The Negro Yearbook remained a classic model for most general reference works on blacks.

John W. Work’s The Negro and His Song (1915) was the first book issued under the Fisk University Press imprint. During the 1930s and 1940s, when Charles Spurgeon Johnson chaired the university’s department of sociology, Fisk University Press issued several important studies, including E. Franklin Frazier’s The Free Negro Family (1932) The Economic Status of the Negro by Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1933) and People versus Property by Herman Long and Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1947). The last publication released by the Fisk University Press was Build a Future: Addresses Marking the Inauguration of Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1949).

Although the board of trustees of Howard University approved the establishment of a university press on February 17, 1919, no university press existed at the university until 1974. Nonetheless, between 1919 and 1974, several books bearing the “Howard University Press” imprint were published, including The Founding of the School of Medicine of Howard University, 1868–1873 by Walter Dyson (1929) and The Housing of Negroes in Washington, D.C.: A Study in Human Ecology by William H. Jones (1929).

On April 8, 1974, the Howard University Press officially organized as a separate administrative unit within the university. It began with a staff of 12 professionals experienced in book publishing. Its mission remains to support the university by “providing leadership for America and the global community through the publication of noteworthy new scholarship that addresses the contributions, conditions, and concerns of African Americans, other people of African descent, and people of color around the world.” The Press publishes a variety of perspectives and disciplines that advance and deepen knowledge in its areas of focus. These include, but are not limited to: political, economic, and social sciences history health education communications fine arts science and technology literature and drama.

The Howard University Press’s inaugural list of 13 books included such titles as A Poetic Equation: Conversations Between Nikki Giovanni and Margaret Walker (1974) and Saw the House in Half, a Novel by Oliver Jackman (1974). A perpetually popular title is How Europe Under-developed Africa by Walter Rodney, originally published in 1982. Releases since 1999 included: Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory by Carol Pott and John A. Berry Mordecai: The Man and His Message, The Story of Mordecai Wyatt Johnson by Richard I. McKinney Black Writers and Latin America Cross Cultural Affinities by Richard Jackson and The Black Seminole Legacy and North American Politics, 1693–1845 by Bruce Edward Twyman. Two of the press’s popular works which were the direct results of scholarly conferences are Black Bibliophiles and Collectors: Preservers of History edited by Elinor DesVerney Sinnette, W. Paul Coates and Thomas C. Battle (1990) and Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora, edited by Joseph E. Harris, originally published in 1982 but now in its second edition, (1994).

With hundreds of books in print, the Howard University Press-the only African American university press still in existence-continued to flourish as one of the most viable university presses in the country. A popular 2002 volume edited by Elizabeth Clark-Lewis is First Freed: Washington, D.C. in the Emancipation Era. More recent works are A Right Worthy Grand Mission: Maggie Lena Walker and the Quest for Black Economic Empowerment (2003)and Dr. LeSalle D. Leffall, Jr., No Boundaries: A Cancer Surgeon’s Odyssey, (2005).

CULTURAL AND PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS

African American cultural and professional organizations and institutions have also developed publishing programs that include book publishing. The books published by these organizations document areas of African American history and depict various aspects of African American culture.

The need to demonstrate that blacks could excel in literature, arts and sciences led to the formation of the American Negro Academy on March 5, 1897 by Reverend Alexander Crummell, nineteenth century African American scholar, clergyman, and missionary. The American Negro Academy had as its major purpose the production of scholarly works assisting youth in attainments reflecting higher culture the dissemination of truth and the “vindication of the Negro” through raising the level of intellectual pursuits. The Academy quickly organized a publishing program that embraced book publishing. The Academy, whose membership included many of the foremost African American intellectuals of the day, released 21 occasional papers as pamphlets and monographs. Some of these are Crummell’s “Civilization, the Primal Need of the Race,” (1897), Charles C. Cook, “Comparative Study of the Negro Problem,” (1899) and Archibald Grimke, “Ballotless Victim of One-Party Governments,” 1913. All twenty-two of the papers are available in print from Arno Press, (1969). The American Negro Academy ceased to exist in 1928.

The Association for the Study of African-American History (formerly Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and, originally the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History-began publishing the Journal of African American History (originally the Journal of Negro History) in 1916 and started its book publishing program in 1918. By 1940, the association had published 28 books. After that year, the book publishing activities of the association declined until 1950, when its founder Carter G. Woodson died and provided in his will for the transfer of the Associated Publishers, Inc. to the association. The most enduring work of the press is probably, The Mis-education of the Negro published by Associated Press in 1933. One of Woodson’s famous quotes from the work is:

When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ’proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.

Howard University philosophy professor Alain Locke organized the Associates of Negro Folk Education in Washington, D.C., with a grant from the American Adult Education Association. The Associates published a series of seven books known as the Bronze Booklets from 1935 to 1940. Written by black scholars on various aspects of African American life and edited by Locke, some of the titles included: A World View of Race by Nobel laureate Ralph J. Bunche (1936) The Negro and Economic Reconstruction by T. Arnold Hill (1937) and Negro Poetry and Drama by Sterling Brown (1937).

CIVIL RIGHTS, SOCIAL WELFARE, AND POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS

In 1913, five years after its founding, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched its publishing program with three books: A Child’s Story of Dunbar by Julia L. Henderson Norris Wright Cuney by Maude Cuney Hare and Hazel by Mary White Ovington. In 1914, George Williamson Crawford’s Prince Hall and His Followers appeared, and in 1919, Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889 1918 was released. After 1919, the NAACP published few books, with the organization limiting its publishing to pamphlets, its annual reports, and Crisis, a bimonthly magazine.

Crisis, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois from its inception in 1910 to 1934, gained success was phenomenal popularity, Du Bois later wrote. Circulation rose from several thousand monthly to 50,000 by 1917, peaking finally at more than 100,000 in 1919. Many credit Du Bois and his editorship of the Crisis to the immediate popularity of the NAACP. Today the magazine remains dedicated to discussing critical issues confronting people of color, American society, and the world. In addition, it highlights the historical and cultural achievements of these diverse peoples. Through essays, interviews, and in-depth reporting, writers explore past and present issues concerning race and its impact on educational, economic, political, social, moral, and ethical issues. Each issue is also highlighted with a special section, “The NAACP Today,” which reports on the news and events of the organization on a local and national level.

In contrast, the National Urban League (NUL) has been a very active book publisher. The League first embarked on book publishing in 1927 when it published Ebony and Topaz, an anthology of Harlem Renaissance writers, poets, and artists edited by Charles Spurgeon Johnson. Through the years, NUL released numerous sociological and economic studies on the plight of African Americans, including Negro Membership in Labor Unions (1930), Race, Fear and Housing in a Typical American Community (1946), and Power of the Ballot: A Handbook for Black Political Participation (1973). In addition to these monographs, the organization began publishing The State of Black America in 1976. The State of Black America is the annual Urban League report that addresses the issues central to Black America in the current year. The publication is a barometer of the conditions, experiences and opinions of Black America. It examines black progress in education, homeownership, entrepreneurship, health and other areas. The publication forecasts certain social and political trends and proposes solutions to the community’s and America’s most pressing challenges. Newer works include Crime and Justice in Black America by Christopher E. Stone (1999) a special report entitled The Impact of Social Security on Child Poverty by Valerie A. Rawlston (2000) and The Urban League’s Assessment of the President’s Education Plan (2001) by Hugh B. Price, NAACP President and CEO.

The State of Black America 2006 report was compiled and analyzed against the backdrop Hurricanes Katrina and Rita The 2006 report stated that Black Americans continued to hover at 0.73 of the status of White Americans.

The publishing program of the Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League focused on the publication of its newspaper, The Negro World. The motto of the U.N.I.A. was “One God! One Aim! One Destiny.” The Negro World was a weekly newspaper founded in 1918 was published in French and Spanish as well as English. In it African history and heroes were glorified. The UNIA also published two volumes called The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, which were compiled and edited by Amy Jacques-Garvey from 1923 to 1925.

COMMERCIAL PUBLISHERS

Until the 1960s, most African American commercial book publishing enterprises were short-lived. Two exceptions to this phenomenon existed, however: Broadside Press in Detroit and Third World Press in Chicago. Established by Dudley Randall in 1965, Broadside Press, which remains active, published poetry by African American authors-many of whom became icons later in life-such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Danner, Robert Hayden, Langston Hughes, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Don L. Lee (Haki R. Madhubuti), Sonia Sanchez, Melvin Tolson, and Margaret Walker. Following in the footsteps of Randall, in 1967, Haki Madhubuti founded Third World Press. Third World Press is now the oldest continually-operating African American commercial book publisher in the United States. In 1969, Dempsey Travis founded Urban Research Press.

Over the years, African American publishers have learned that a sizable African American readership exists. Since 1970 several major African American publishers have emerged. In 1978, Black Classic Press was founded by librarian Paul Coates to publish obscure, but significant, works by and about people of African descent. In 1981, Open Hand Publishing Inc. was founded by Anna Johnson.

Inspired by the dearth of books for his courses, former Rutgers University African Studies instructor Kassahun Checole founded the Africa World Press in 1983 to publish material on the economic, political, and social development of Africa. By the end of the twentieth century, African World Press, which published nearly 60 titles annually, was the premier publisher of books on African, African American, Caribbean, and Latin American issues. Its sister company, Red Sea Press, established in 1985, was one of the largest distributors of material by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

Just Us Books, Inc., founded by writer Wade Hudson and graphic artist Cheryl Willis Hudson, publishes books and educational material for children that focus on the African American experience. The idea to start the company first came to Cheryl in 1976, when she was unable to find African American images to decorate her daughter’s nursery. Just Us Books published its first book in 1988—an alphabet book featuring African American children posed to create the letters. The company had sales of $1.6 million in its 2002 fiscal year. Diaspora Press of America, which publishes African American Diasporic folktales, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children’s stories and Amber Books, which publishes self-help and career-guide books the 1995.

Independent African American-owned book stores have benefitted from a resurgence of African American authors and an abundance of titles, but major bookstore chains make competition stiff. Although African Americans’ book buying grew from $181 million in 1990 to $296 million in 1995, with the decline in hardcover sales, publishers were more cautious about placing books with specialty stores for fear that a book would lose mainstream appeal.

With the increasing demand for African American–oriented books, especially those written by African Americans, two diverging opinions arose from the African American literary community. Some believed that the creation of imprints like Strivers Row (Villard/Random House), Amistad (HarperCollins), Harlem Moon (Random House), and Dafina Books (Kensington) diminished the opportunity to showcase different genres. Furthermore, this faction insisted that African American books published by major white companies were too formulaic. Others believed that the abundance of African American books allowed for all kinds of literature thus, ultimately increasing the number of African American authors published each year. Although the two groups disagreed on the quality of African American literature being published, both agreed that the proliferation of African American writers and the subsequent successful sales of their titles were most important, especially if they retain long-term marketability.

COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

In the 1990s, African American comics peaked in popularity. Once relegated to a form of children’s entertainment, comic books found an audience with young adults in their twenties to thirties. In fact, in 1990, Cable News Network (CNN) noted that sales of multiracial comics had jumped 9 percent, thus accounting for 10 percent of all comic book sales. One reason for the growth among the African American adult readership is collectibility-since most African American series are short-lived, each issue has the potential to become a rarity. Another reason is the fact that African American comics now better reflect the cultural and artistic concerns of the African American community.

African American characters of yore, often grotesquely drawn by whites, were either sidekicks or afterthoughts—never the stars. For example, Ebony, an African American character, paraded around with white superhero The Spirit in the 1940s. Meanwhile, Captain America had Falcon, his black version of the Lone Ranger’s Native American sidekick Tonto. Other African American characters were portrayed as ignorant, uneducated, and inept at worst. Blatantly stereotypical, most were created and drawn by white males who did not know much about the reality of African Americans. Over the years, the status of African American comic book characters evolved in the same negative ways that whites’ perceptions of blacks did. By the 1960s and 1970s, African Americans were depicted either as drug addicts or Uncle Toms.

True change did not occur until a few enterprising African Americans took matters into their own hands. By 1993, Africa Rising Comics, Afrocentric Books, Dark Zulu Lies, Omega 7 Comics, and UP Comics had created ANIA (the Swahili word for “serve and protect”) Comics under the leadership of Eric Griffin. The group’s goal was to become a major publishing force by pooling their talents. The mainstream comic book publishers responded by producing comic books that featured black characters to capitalize on the market that ANIA’s creators started. Disbanding soon thereafter, ANIA’s existence highlighted the growing line of non-white superheroes. Their titles included Brotherman, Malcolm 10, Heru, Zwanna, Purge, and Ebony Warrior.

In the mid-1990s, Big City Comics produced Brotherman, which revolved around a public defender who also fought crime as “the dictator of discipline.” Omega 7 Inc., founded by Alonzo Washington, a former member of ANIA, is based in Kansas City, Kansas. As of 2002, it was the largest independent African American comic book publisher. Omega 7 Inc. introduced fans to The Original Man, a champion of morality and supporter and protector of African American women The Mighty Ace, with an anti-drug, anti-gang, anti-violence message and Darkforce, a revolutionary African American hero. Other characters include Omega Man, Original Boy, Original Woman, and The Omega 7. Washington develops each comic and writes the storylines.

UP Comics offered Purge, which detailed the trials and tribulations of a man whose sole goal was to rid his city of evil. Lionheart, from Prophesy Comics, also emphasized morality. In a unique twist, Castel Publications came up with The Grammar Patrol, multiethnic heros with a penchant for knowing the rules of speech and writing. Geared towards children, it showed that the medium could be educational as well as entertaining.

Most of these companies were completely African American, from the owners and artists to the storywriters and marketers. Mainstream publishers entered the fray when industry giant DC Comics began distributing Milestone Comics in 1991 as part of their new imprint Milestone Media, formerly an African American-owned, independent publisher run by Derek T. Dingle. With a broad, full-process color system at hand, the company made history as the first major publisher to back African American creators. Among their titles have been Hardware, Blood Syndicate, Icon, Kobalt, Shadow Cabinet, Xombi, and Static, the latter featuring a teen hero who also became an animated television program.

Although the desire to read comic books with African American characters and the number of new African American comic books continued to increase, only between 25 and 30 percent of comic book buyers are minorities. Since the demise of ANIA and many other African American independently owned publishers, it became difficult for African Americans to produce their own publications. The two major comic book publishers, DC Comics and Marvel Comics, have both created several or more African American comic book characters and are not usually open to purchasing outside characters unless they can own them outright. In addition, some of the more popular African American comic book characters have been created by whites, for example, Spawn, Luke Cage, The Black Panther, The Falcon, and Blade (the inspiration for the movies starring Wesley Snipes). Therefore, aspiring African American comic book artists have two options: they can find an independent publisher or self-publish. Since both are usually difficult, many artists opt to work on more established characters, like Superman, Spiderman, or Batman, to ensure their financial stability with the goal of eventually saving enough money to publish their own characters. Two notable exceptions are Alex Simmons, creator of Blackjack and P. Skylar Owens, creator of Knightmare, Team Sexecutioner, and CyJax.


19Media

By the early nineteenth century African Americans began to publish their own books, pamphlets, tracts and newspapers. Educated African Americans wanted to speak for themselves and meet the social and intellectual needs of their own communities. Many African Americans felt that racist writers gave such an inaccurate portrayal of blacks, that it was essential to write and publish their own materials to vindicate themselves. There have been more than 100 publishing houses started by African American churches, individuals, organizations, universities and cultural institutions dating back to this period. The publishing industry in the African American community managed to prosper regardless of the obstacles. Since the inception of African American book publishing, three types of publishers have emerged: religious, institutional, and trade publishers.

RELIGIOUS PUBLISHERS

African American religious denominations established religious publishing enterprises in order to publish works that would provide religious instruction and assist the clergy and laity in recording denominational history. Some religious publishers also released books on secular subjects that celebrated some aspect of African American culture or documented African American history.

Prior to the Civil War, two African American religious publishing enterprises existed. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) organized the AME Book Concern in Philadelphia in 1817—the first African American-owned book publishing enterprise in the United States. Publishing its first book in that same year, The Book of Discipline, the AME Book Concern published a host of classic religious and secular books until its operations were suspended in 1952 by the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1841, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church formed the AME Zion Publishing House New York City in 1940. Both of these denominations published devotionals, Biblical studies and commentaries, church histories and biographies, Sunday School materials and hymnals. The AME Sunday School Union and Publishing House, located in Bloomington, Indiana, began its work with literature for Sunday School students in 1882 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1886.

In Jackson, Tennessee, the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (CME)—known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church—started the CME Publishing House in 1870. The CME Publishing House, which only publishes books on religious subjects, is located in Memphis, Tennessee. The Publishing House states that is fourfold purpose it to disseminate official CME proclamations, to publish and distribute denominational literature, to act as the “literary mind of the church,” to record the church‘s history, safeguard the CME doctrine and to increase loyalty to the church through a fuller knowledge and appreciation of the church’s history.

One of the most successful African American religious publishers to come into existence during the nineteenth century was the National Baptist Publishing Board (NBPB). Under the leadership of Dr. Richard Henry Boyd and the auspices of the National Baptist Convention, USA, the NBPB was organized in Nashville in 1896. By 1913, this well-managed firm, publishing religious and secular books, grew into one of the largest African American-owned businesses in the country. In 1915, however, a dispute arose between the National Baptist Convention, USA, and Dr. Richard Henry Boyd over the ownership of the NBPB. In a legal battle, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided in favor of Boyd. The NBPB—now R.H. Boyd Publishing Corp. in honor of its founder—is owned by the Boyd family. With over 100 years of publishing experience, R. H. Boyd continues to thrive as a religious enterprise by publishing hymnals, Bibles and Sunday School materials as well as books about family, education, and history.

Faced with the loss of the NBPB in 1916, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. established the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., in Nashville. Over the years, this firm developed into one of the largest African American-owned publishing enterprises, publishing religious and secular books and pamphlets.

In 1907, the Church of God in Christ established the Church of God in Christ Publishing House in Memphis. Restricting its publications to religious books and pamphlets, this publisher met the ever-expanding need for religious literature for one of the fastest-growing African American religious denominations.

INSTITUTIONAL PUBLISHERS

During the post-Civil War decades of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century, educational, cultural, social, and political institutions published a variety of materials to meet the specific needs of African Americans.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

Hampton Institute became the first African American educational institution to publish books when the Hampton Institute Press was established in 1871. An active publisher until 1940, the Hampton Institute Press published travel books, poetry, textbooks, songbooks, conference proceedings, and The Southern Workman, one of the leading national African American periodicals published between its inception in 1871 and its demise in 1939. Institutions like Hampton played a vital role in preserving primary and secondary resources related to the history of African Americans in general and these institutions in particular. For example, in 1927 the press published a volume edited by R. Nathaniel Dett entitled Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung at Hampton Institute.

In 1896, the Atlanta University Press entered the book publishing market with the release of Atlanta University Publication Series, which consisted of monographs reporting on the findings of studies conducted by the university’s department of sociology under the direction of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. These works represented some of the earliest studies in urban sociology conducted in the South. The Atlanta University Press remained in operation until 1936. Du Bois was a pioneer not only in African American studies but also in the development of sociological methodology.

Industrial Work of Tuskegee Graduates and Former Students During the Year 1910, compiled by Monroe N. Work (1911), was the first book released by the Tuskegee Institute Press. With the publication of this book and other works by the press, Booker T. Washington sought to publicize the success of Tuskegee’s program to white philanthropists in the North as well as celebrated the achievements of the school‘s alumni. The Tuskegee Institute Press, which was active until 1958, published several other important works including John Kenny’s The Negroes in Medicine (1912) and Lynching by States, 1882–1958 (1958) by Jessie Parkhurst Guzman.

In 1910, another book publishing enterprise was launched on the campus of Tuskegee Institute - the Negro Yearbook Publishing Company. A partnership consisting of Robert E. Park, the famed white sociologist, Emmett J. Scott, secretary to Booker T. Washington, and Monroe N. Work, a sociology professor. This firm published the first edition of The Negro Yearbook in 1912. The most comprehensive reference book to appear to date on African Americans, The Negro Yearbook was highly regarded as the definitive work on statistics and facts on blacks worldwide. The enterprise experienced financial trouble in 1929. The Tuskegee Institute financed its operation until 1952. Between 1912 and 1952, The Negro Yearbook remained a classic model for most general reference works on blacks.

John W. Work’s The Negro and His Song (1915) was the first book issued under the Fisk University Press imprint. During the 1930s and 1940s, when Charles Spurgeon Johnson chaired the university’s department of sociology, Fisk University Press issued several important studies, including E. Franklin Frazier’s The Free Negro Family (1932) The Economic Status of the Negro by Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1933) and People versus Property by Herman Long and Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1947). The last publication released by the Fisk University Press was Build a Future: Addresses Marking the Inauguration of Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1949).

Although the board of trustees of Howard University approved the establishment of a university press on February 17, 1919, no university press existed at the university until 1974. Nonetheless, between 1919 and 1974, several books bearing the “Howard University Press” imprint were published, including The Founding of the School of Medicine of Howard University, 1868–1873 by Walter Dyson (1929) and The Housing of Negroes in Washington, D.C.: A Study in Human Ecology by William H. Jones (1929).

On April 8, 1974, the Howard University Press officially organized as a separate administrative unit within the university. It began with a staff of 12 professionals experienced in book publishing. Its mission remains to support the university by “providing leadership for America and the global community through the publication of noteworthy new scholarship that addresses the contributions, conditions, and concerns of African Americans, other people of African descent, and people of color around the world.” The Press publishes a variety of perspectives and disciplines that advance and deepen knowledge in its areas of focus. These include, but are not limited to: political, economic, and social sciences history health education communications fine arts science and technology literature and drama.

The Howard University Press’s inaugural list of 13 books included such titles as A Poetic Equation: Conversations Between Nikki Giovanni and Margaret Walker (1974) and Saw the House in Half, a Novel by Oliver Jackman (1974). A perpetually popular title is How Europe Under-developed Africa by Walter Rodney, originally published in 1982. Releases since 1999 included: Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory by Carol Pott and John A. Berry Mordecai: The Man and His Message, The Story of Mordecai Wyatt Johnson by Richard I. McKinney Black Writers and Latin America Cross Cultural Affinities by Richard Jackson and The Black Seminole Legacy and North American Politics, 1693–1845 by Bruce Edward Twyman. Two of the press’s popular works which were the direct results of scholarly conferences are Black Bibliophiles and Collectors: Preservers of History edited by Elinor DesVerney Sinnette, W. Paul Coates and Thomas C. Battle (1990) and Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora, edited by Joseph E. Harris, originally published in 1982 but now in its second edition, (1994).

With hundreds of books in print, the Howard University Press-the only African American university press still in existence-continued to flourish as one of the most viable university presses in the country. A popular 2002 volume edited by Elizabeth Clark-Lewis is First Freed: Washington, D.C. in the Emancipation Era. More recent works are A Right Worthy Grand Mission: Maggie Lena Walker and the Quest for Black Economic Empowerment (2003)and Dr. LeSalle D. Leffall, Jr., No Boundaries: A Cancer Surgeon’s Odyssey, (2005).

CULTURAL AND PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS

African American cultural and professional organizations and institutions have also developed publishing programs that include book publishing. The books published by these organizations document areas of African American history and depict various aspects of African American culture.

The need to demonstrate that blacks could excel in literature, arts and sciences led to the formation of the American Negro Academy on March 5, 1897 by Reverend Alexander Crummell, nineteenth century African American scholar, clergyman, and missionary. The American Negro Academy had as its major purpose the production of scholarly works assisting youth in attainments reflecting higher culture the dissemination of truth and the “vindication of the Negro” through raising the level of intellectual pursuits. The Academy quickly organized a publishing program that embraced book publishing. The Academy, whose membership included many of the foremost African American intellectuals of the day, released 21 occasional papers as pamphlets and monographs. Some of these are Crummell’s “Civilization, the Primal Need of the Race,” (1897), Charles C. Cook, “Comparative Study of the Negro Problem,” (1899) and Archibald Grimke, “Ballotless Victim of One-Party Governments,” 1913. All twenty-two of the papers are available in print from Arno Press, (1969). The American Negro Academy ceased to exist in 1928.

The Association for the Study of African-American History (formerly Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and, originally the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History-began publishing the Journal of African American History (originally the Journal of Negro History) in 1916 and started its book publishing program in 1918. By 1940, the association had published 28 books. After that year, the book publishing activities of the association declined until 1950, when its founder Carter G. Woodson died and provided in his will for the transfer of the Associated Publishers, Inc. to the association. The most enduring work of the press is probably, The Mis-education of the Negro published by Associated Press in 1933. One of Woodson’s famous quotes from the work is:

When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ’proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.

Howard University philosophy professor Alain Locke organized the Associates of Negro Folk Education in Washington, D.C., with a grant from the American Adult Education Association. The Associates published a series of seven books known as the Bronze Booklets from 1935 to 1940. Written by black scholars on various aspects of African American life and edited by Locke, some of the titles included: A World View of Race by Nobel laureate Ralph J. Bunche (1936) The Negro and Economic Reconstruction by T. Arnold Hill (1937) and Negro Poetry and Drama by Sterling Brown (1937).

CIVIL RIGHTS, SOCIAL WELFARE, AND POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS

In 1913, five years after its founding, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched its publishing program with three books: A Child’s Story of Dunbar by Julia L. Henderson Norris Wright Cuney by Maude Cuney Hare and Hazel by Mary White Ovington. In 1914, George Williamson Crawford’s Prince Hall and His Followers appeared, and in 1919, Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889 1918 was released. After 1919, the NAACP published few books, with the organization limiting its publishing to pamphlets, its annual reports, and Crisis, a bimonthly magazine.

Crisis, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois from its inception in 1910 to 1934, gained success was phenomenal popularity, Du Bois later wrote. Circulation rose from several thousand monthly to 50,000 by 1917, peaking finally at more than 100,000 in 1919. Many credit Du Bois and his editorship of the Crisis to the immediate popularity of the NAACP. Today the magazine remains dedicated to discussing critical issues confronting people of color, American society, and the world. In addition, it highlights the historical and cultural achievements of these diverse peoples. Through essays, interviews, and in-depth reporting, writers explore past and present issues concerning race and its impact on educational, economic, political, social, moral, and ethical issues. Each issue is also highlighted with a special section, “The NAACP Today,” which reports on the news and events of the organization on a local and national level.

In contrast, the National Urban League (NUL) has been a very active book publisher. The League first embarked on book publishing in 1927 when it published Ebony and Topaz, an anthology of Harlem Renaissance writers, poets, and artists edited by Charles Spurgeon Johnson. Through the years, NUL released numerous sociological and economic studies on the plight of African Americans, including Negro Membership in Labor Unions (1930), Race, Fear and Housing in a Typical American Community (1946), and Power of the Ballot: A Handbook for Black Political Participation (1973). In addition to these monographs, the organization began publishing The State of Black America in 1976. The State of Black America is the annual Urban League report that addresses the issues central to Black America in the current year. The publication is a barometer of the conditions, experiences and opinions of Black America. It examines black progress in education, homeownership, entrepreneurship, health and other areas. The publication forecasts certain social and political trends and proposes solutions to the community’s and America’s most pressing challenges. Newer works include Crime and Justice in Black America by Christopher E. Stone (1999) a special report entitled The Impact of Social Security on Child Poverty by Valerie A. Rawlston (2000) and The Urban League’s Assessment of the President’s Education Plan (2001) by Hugh B. Price, NAACP President and CEO.

The State of Black America 2006 report was compiled and analyzed against the backdrop Hurricanes Katrina and Rita The 2006 report stated that Black Americans continued to hover at 0.73 of the status of White Americans.

The publishing program of the Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League focused on the publication of its newspaper, The Negro World. The motto of the U.N.I.A. was “One God! One Aim! One Destiny.” The Negro World was a weekly newspaper founded in 1918 was published in French and Spanish as well as English. In it African history and heroes were glorified. The UNIA also published two volumes called The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, which were compiled and edited by Amy Jacques-Garvey from 1923 to 1925.

COMMERCIAL PUBLISHERS

Until the 1960s, most African American commercial book publishing enterprises were short-lived. Two exceptions to this phenomenon existed, however: Broadside Press in Detroit and Third World Press in Chicago. Established by Dudley Randall in 1965, Broadside Press, which remains active, published poetry by African American authors-many of whom became icons later in life-such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Danner, Robert Hayden, Langston Hughes, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Don L. Lee (Haki R. Madhubuti), Sonia Sanchez, Melvin Tolson, and Margaret Walker. Following in the footsteps of Randall, in 1967, Haki Madhubuti founded Third World Press. Third World Press is now the oldest continually-operating African American commercial book publisher in the United States. In 1969, Dempsey Travis founded Urban Research Press.

Over the years, African American publishers have learned that a sizable African American readership exists. Since 1970 several major African American publishers have emerged. In 1978, Black Classic Press was founded by librarian Paul Coates to publish obscure, but significant, works by and about people of African descent. In 1981, Open Hand Publishing Inc. was founded by Anna Johnson.

Inspired by the dearth of books for his courses, former Rutgers University African Studies instructor Kassahun Checole founded the Africa World Press in 1983 to publish material on the economic, political, and social development of Africa. By the end of the twentieth century, African World Press, which published nearly 60 titles annually, was the premier publisher of books on African, African American, Caribbean, and Latin American issues. Its sister company, Red Sea Press, established in 1985, was one of the largest distributors of material by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

Just Us Books, Inc., founded by writer Wade Hudson and graphic artist Cheryl Willis Hudson, publishes books and educational material for children that focus on the African American experience. The idea to start the company first came to Cheryl in 1976, when she was unable to find African American images to decorate her daughter’s nursery. Just Us Books published its first book in 1988—an alphabet book featuring African American children posed to create the letters. The company had sales of $1.6 million in its 2002 fiscal year. Diaspora Press of America, which publishes African American Diasporic folktales, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children’s stories and Amber Books, which publishes self-help and career-guide books the 1995.

Independent African American-owned book stores have benefitted from a resurgence of African American authors and an abundance of titles, but major bookstore chains make competition stiff. Although African Americans’ book buying grew from $181 million in 1990 to $296 million in 1995, with the decline in hardcover sales, publishers were more cautious about placing books with specialty stores for fear that a book would lose mainstream appeal.

With the increasing demand for African American–oriented books, especially those written by African Americans, two diverging opinions arose from the African American literary community. Some believed that the creation of imprints like Strivers Row (Villard/Random House), Amistad (HarperCollins), Harlem Moon (Random House), and Dafina Books (Kensington) diminished the opportunity to showcase different genres. Furthermore, this faction insisted that African American books published by major white companies were too formulaic. Others believed that the abundance of African American books allowed for all kinds of literature thus, ultimately increasing the number of African American authors published each year. Although the two groups disagreed on the quality of African American literature being published, both agreed that the proliferation of African American writers and the subsequent successful sales of their titles were most important, especially if they retain long-term marketability.

COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

In the 1990s, African American comics peaked in popularity. Once relegated to a form of children’s entertainment, comic books found an audience with young adults in their twenties to thirties. In fact, in 1990, Cable News Network (CNN) noted that sales of multiracial comics had jumped 9 percent, thus accounting for 10 percent of all comic book sales. One reason for the growth among the African American adult readership is collectibility-since most African American series are short-lived, each issue has the potential to become a rarity. Another reason is the fact that African American comics now better reflect the cultural and artistic concerns of the African American community.

African American characters of yore, often grotesquely drawn by whites, were either sidekicks or afterthoughts—never the stars. For example, Ebony, an African American character, paraded around with white superhero The Spirit in the 1940s. Meanwhile, Captain America had Falcon, his black version of the Lone Ranger’s Native American sidekick Tonto. Other African American characters were portrayed as ignorant, uneducated, and inept at worst. Blatantly stereotypical, most were created and drawn by white males who did not know much about the reality of African Americans. Over the years, the status of African American comic book characters evolved in the same negative ways that whites’ perceptions of blacks did. By the 1960s and 1970s, African Americans were depicted either as drug addicts or Uncle Toms.

True change did not occur until a few enterprising African Americans took matters into their own hands. By 1993, Africa Rising Comics, Afrocentric Books, Dark Zulu Lies, Omega 7 Comics, and UP Comics had created ANIA (the Swahili word for “serve and protect”) Comics under the leadership of Eric Griffin. The group’s goal was to become a major publishing force by pooling their talents. The mainstream comic book publishers responded by producing comic books that featured black characters to capitalize on the market that ANIA’s creators started. Disbanding soon thereafter, ANIA’s existence highlighted the growing line of non-white superheroes. Their titles included Brotherman, Malcolm 10, Heru, Zwanna, Purge, and Ebony Warrior.

In the mid-1990s, Big City Comics produced Brotherman, which revolved around a public defender who also fought crime as “the dictator of discipline.” Omega 7 Inc., founded by Alonzo Washington, a former member of ANIA, is based in Kansas City, Kansas. As of 2002, it was the largest independent African American comic book publisher. Omega 7 Inc. introduced fans to The Original Man, a champion of morality and supporter and protector of African American women The Mighty Ace, with an anti-drug, anti-gang, anti-violence message and Darkforce, a revolutionary African American hero. Other characters include Omega Man, Original Boy, Original Woman, and The Omega 7. Washington develops each comic and writes the storylines.

UP Comics offered Purge, which detailed the trials and tribulations of a man whose sole goal was to rid his city of evil. Lionheart, from Prophesy Comics, also emphasized morality. In a unique twist, Castel Publications came up with The Grammar Patrol, multiethnic heros with a penchant for knowing the rules of speech and writing. Geared towards children, it showed that the medium could be educational as well as entertaining.

Most of these companies were completely African American, from the owners and artists to the storywriters and marketers. Mainstream publishers entered the fray when industry giant DC Comics began distributing Milestone Comics in 1991 as part of their new imprint Milestone Media, formerly an African American-owned, independent publisher run by Derek T. Dingle. With a broad, full-process color system at hand, the company made history as the first major publisher to back African American creators. Among their titles have been Hardware, Blood Syndicate, Icon, Kobalt, Shadow Cabinet, Xombi, and Static, the latter featuring a teen hero who also became an animated television program.

Although the desire to read comic books with African American characters and the number of new African American comic books continued to increase, only between 25 and 30 percent of comic book buyers are minorities. Since the demise of ANIA and many other African American independently owned publishers, it became difficult for African Americans to produce their own publications. The two major comic book publishers, DC Comics and Marvel Comics, have both created several or more African American comic book characters and are not usually open to purchasing outside characters unless they can own them outright. In addition, some of the more popular African American comic book characters have been created by whites, for example, Spawn, Luke Cage, The Black Panther, The Falcon, and Blade (the inspiration for the movies starring Wesley Snipes). Therefore, aspiring African American comic book artists have two options: they can find an independent publisher or self-publish. Since both are usually difficult, many artists opt to work on more established characters, like Superman, Spiderman, or Batman, to ensure their financial stability with the goal of eventually saving enough money to publish their own characters. Two notable exceptions are Alex Simmons, creator of Blackjack and P. Skylar Owens, creator of Knightmare, Team Sexecutioner, and CyJax.


19Media

By the early nineteenth century African Americans began to publish their own books, pamphlets, tracts and newspapers. Educated African Americans wanted to speak for themselves and meet the social and intellectual needs of their own communities. Many African Americans felt that racist writers gave such an inaccurate portrayal of blacks, that it was essential to write and publish their own materials to vindicate themselves. There have been more than 100 publishing houses started by African American churches, individuals, organizations, universities and cultural institutions dating back to this period. The publishing industry in the African American community managed to prosper regardless of the obstacles. Since the inception of African American book publishing, three types of publishers have emerged: religious, institutional, and trade publishers.

RELIGIOUS PUBLISHERS

African American religious denominations established religious publishing enterprises in order to publish works that would provide religious instruction and assist the clergy and laity in recording denominational history. Some religious publishers also released books on secular subjects that celebrated some aspect of African American culture or documented African American history.

Prior to the Civil War, two African American religious publishing enterprises existed. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) organized the AME Book Concern in Philadelphia in 1817—the first African American-owned book publishing enterprise in the United States. Publishing its first book in that same year, The Book of Discipline, the AME Book Concern published a host of classic religious and secular books until its operations were suspended in 1952 by the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1841, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church formed the AME Zion Publishing House New York City in 1940. Both of these denominations published devotionals, Biblical studies and commentaries, church histories and biographies, Sunday School materials and hymnals. The AME Sunday School Union and Publishing House, located in Bloomington, Indiana, began its work with literature for Sunday School students in 1882 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1886.

In Jackson, Tennessee, the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (CME)—known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church—started the CME Publishing House in 1870. The CME Publishing House, which only publishes books on religious subjects, is located in Memphis, Tennessee. The Publishing House states that is fourfold purpose it to disseminate official CME proclamations, to publish and distribute denominational literature, to act as the “literary mind of the church,” to record the church‘s history, safeguard the CME doctrine and to increase loyalty to the church through a fuller knowledge and appreciation of the church’s history.

One of the most successful African American religious publishers to come into existence during the nineteenth century was the National Baptist Publishing Board (NBPB). Under the leadership of Dr. Richard Henry Boyd and the auspices of the National Baptist Convention, USA, the NBPB was organized in Nashville in 1896. By 1913, this well-managed firm, publishing religious and secular books, grew into one of the largest African American-owned businesses in the country. In 1915, however, a dispute arose between the National Baptist Convention, USA, and Dr. Richard Henry Boyd over the ownership of the NBPB. In a legal battle, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided in favor of Boyd. The NBPB—now R.H. Boyd Publishing Corp. in honor of its founder—is owned by the Boyd family. With over 100 years of publishing experience, R. H. Boyd continues to thrive as a religious enterprise by publishing hymnals, Bibles and Sunday School materials as well as books about family, education, and history.

Faced with the loss of the NBPB in 1916, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. established the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., in Nashville. Over the years, this firm developed into one of the largest African American-owned publishing enterprises, publishing religious and secular books and pamphlets.

In 1907, the Church of God in Christ established the Church of God in Christ Publishing House in Memphis. Restricting its publications to religious books and pamphlets, this publisher met the ever-expanding need for religious literature for one of the fastest-growing African American religious denominations.

INSTITUTIONAL PUBLISHERS

During the post-Civil War decades of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century, educational, cultural, social, and political institutions published a variety of materials to meet the specific needs of African Americans.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

Hampton Institute became the first African American educational institution to publish books when the Hampton Institute Press was established in 1871. An active publisher until 1940, the Hampton Institute Press published travel books, poetry, textbooks, songbooks, conference proceedings, and The Southern Workman, one of the leading national African American periodicals published between its inception in 1871 and its demise in 1939. Institutions like Hampton played a vital role in preserving primary and secondary resources related to the history of African Americans in general and these institutions in particular. For example, in 1927 the press published a volume edited by R. Nathaniel Dett entitled Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung at Hampton Institute.

In 1896, the Atlanta University Press entered the book publishing market with the release of Atlanta University Publication Series, which consisted of monographs reporting on the findings of studies conducted by the university’s department of sociology under the direction of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. These works represented some of the earliest studies in urban sociology conducted in the South. The Atlanta University Press remained in operation until 1936. Du Bois was a pioneer not only in African American studies but also in the development of sociological methodology.

Industrial Work of Tuskegee Graduates and Former Students During the Year 1910, compiled by Monroe N. Work (1911), was the first book released by the Tuskegee Institute Press. With the publication of this book and other works by the press, Booker T. Washington sought to publicize the success of Tuskegee’s program to white philanthropists in the North as well as celebrated the achievements of the school‘s alumni. The Tuskegee Institute Press, which was active until 1958, published several other important works including John Kenny’s The Negroes in Medicine (1912) and Lynching by States, 1882–1958 (1958) by Jessie Parkhurst Guzman.

In 1910, another book publishing enterprise was launched on the campus of Tuskegee Institute - the Negro Yearbook Publishing Company. A partnership consisting of Robert E. Park, the famed white sociologist, Emmett J. Scott, secretary to Booker T. Washington, and Monroe N. Work, a sociology professor. This firm published the first edition of The Negro Yearbook in 1912. The most comprehensive reference book to appear to date on African Americans, The Negro Yearbook was highly regarded as the definitive work on statistics and facts on blacks worldwide. The enterprise experienced financial trouble in 1929. The Tuskegee Institute financed its operation until 1952. Between 1912 and 1952, The Negro Yearbook remained a classic model for most general reference works on blacks.

John W. Work’s The Negro and His Song (1915) was the first book issued under the Fisk University Press imprint. During the 1930s and 1940s, when Charles Spurgeon Johnson chaired the university’s department of sociology, Fisk University Press issued several important studies, including E. Franklin Frazier’s The Free Negro Family (1932) The Economic Status of the Negro by Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1933) and People versus Property by Herman Long and Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1947). The last publication released by the Fisk University Press was Build a Future: Addresses Marking the Inauguration of Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1949).

Although the board of trustees of Howard University approved the establishment of a university press on February 17, 1919, no university press existed at the university until 1974. Nonetheless, between 1919 and 1974, several books bearing the “Howard University Press” imprint were published, including The Founding of the School of Medicine of Howard University, 1868–1873 by Walter Dyson (1929) and The Housing of Negroes in Washington, D.C.: A Study in Human Ecology by William H. Jones (1929).

On April 8, 1974, the Howard University Press officially organized as a separate administrative unit within the university. It began with a staff of 12 professionals experienced in book publishing. Its mission remains to support the university by “providing leadership for America and the global community through the publication of noteworthy new scholarship that addresses the contributions, conditions, and concerns of African Americans, other people of African descent, and people of color around the world.” The Press publishes a variety of perspectives and disciplines that advance and deepen knowledge in its areas of focus. These include, but are not limited to: political, economic, and social sciences history health education communications fine arts science and technology literature and drama.

The Howard University Press’s inaugural list of 13 books included such titles as A Poetic Equation: Conversations Between Nikki Giovanni and Margaret Walker (1974) and Saw the House in Half, a Novel by Oliver Jackman (1974). A perpetually popular title is How Europe Under-developed Africa by Walter Rodney, originally published in 1982. Releases since 1999 included: Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory by Carol Pott and John A. Berry Mordecai: The Man and His Message, The Story of Mordecai Wyatt Johnson by Richard I. McKinney Black Writers and Latin America Cross Cultural Affinities by Richard Jackson and The Black Seminole Legacy and North American Politics, 1693–1845 by Bruce Edward Twyman. Two of the press’s popular works which were the direct results of scholarly conferences are Black Bibliophiles and Collectors: Preservers of History edited by Elinor DesVerney Sinnette, W. Paul Coates and Thomas C. Battle (1990) and Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora, edited by Joseph E. Harris, originally published in 1982 but now in its second edition, (1994).

With hundreds of books in print, the Howard University Press-the only African American university press still in existence-continued to flourish as one of the most viable university presses in the country. A popular 2002 volume edited by Elizabeth Clark-Lewis is First Freed: Washington, D.C. in the Emancipation Era. More recent works are A Right Worthy Grand Mission: Maggie Lena Walker and the Quest for Black Economic Empowerment (2003)and Dr. LeSalle D. Leffall, Jr., No Boundaries: A Cancer Surgeon’s Odyssey, (2005).

CULTURAL AND PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS

African American cultural and professional organizations and institutions have also developed publishing programs that include book publishing. The books published by these organizations document areas of African American history and depict various aspects of African American culture.

The need to demonstrate that blacks could excel in literature, arts and sciences led to the formation of the American Negro Academy on March 5, 1897 by Reverend Alexander Crummell, nineteenth century African American scholar, clergyman, and missionary. The American Negro Academy had as its major purpose the production of scholarly works assisting youth in attainments reflecting higher culture the dissemination of truth and the “vindication of the Negro” through raising the level of intellectual pursuits. The Academy quickly organized a publishing program that embraced book publishing. The Academy, whose membership included many of the foremost African American intellectuals of the day, released 21 occasional papers as pamphlets and monographs. Some of these are Crummell’s “Civilization, the Primal Need of the Race,” (1897), Charles C. Cook, “Comparative Study of the Negro Problem,” (1899) and Archibald Grimke, “Ballotless Victim of One-Party Governments,” 1913. All twenty-two of the papers are available in print from Arno Press, (1969). The American Negro Academy ceased to exist in 1928.

The Association for the Study of African-American History (formerly Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and, originally the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History-began publishing the Journal of African American History (originally the Journal of Negro History) in 1916 and started its book publishing program in 1918. By 1940, the association had published 28 books. After that year, the book publishing activities of the association declined until 1950, when its founder Carter G. Woodson died and provided in his will for the transfer of the Associated Publishers, Inc. to the association. The most enduring work of the press is probably, The Mis-education of the Negro published by Associated Press in 1933. One of Woodson’s famous quotes from the work is:

When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ’proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.

Howard University philosophy professor Alain Locke organized the Associates of Negro Folk Education in Washington, D.C., with a grant from the American Adult Education Association. The Associates published a series of seven books known as the Bronze Booklets from 1935 to 1940. Written by black scholars on various aspects of African American life and edited by Locke, some of the titles included: A World View of Race by Nobel laureate Ralph J. Bunche (1936) The Negro and Economic Reconstruction by T. Arnold Hill (1937) and Negro Poetry and Drama by Sterling Brown (1937).

CIVIL RIGHTS, SOCIAL WELFARE, AND POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS

In 1913, five years after its founding, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched its publishing program with three books: A Child’s Story of Dunbar by Julia L. Henderson Norris Wright Cuney by Maude Cuney Hare and Hazel by Mary White Ovington. In 1914, George Williamson Crawford’s Prince Hall and His Followers appeared, and in 1919, Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889 1918 was released. After 1919, the NAACP published few books, with the organization limiting its publishing to pamphlets, its annual reports, and Crisis, a bimonthly magazine.

Crisis, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois from its inception in 1910 to 1934, gained success was phenomenal popularity, Du Bois later wrote. Circulation rose from several thousand monthly to 50,000 by 1917, peaking finally at more than 100,000 in 1919. Many credit Du Bois and his editorship of the Crisis to the immediate popularity of the NAACP. Today the magazine remains dedicated to discussing critical issues confronting people of color, American society, and the world. In addition, it highlights the historical and cultural achievements of these diverse peoples. Through essays, interviews, and in-depth reporting, writers explore past and present issues concerning race and its impact on educational, economic, political, social, moral, and ethical issues. Each issue is also highlighted with a special section, “The NAACP Today,” which reports on the news and events of the organization on a local and national level.

In contrast, the National Urban League (NUL) has been a very active book publisher. The League first embarked on book publishing in 1927 when it published Ebony and Topaz, an anthology of Harlem Renaissance writers, poets, and artists edited by Charles Spurgeon Johnson. Through the years, NUL released numerous sociological and economic studies on the plight of African Americans, including Negro Membership in Labor Unions (1930), Race, Fear and Housing in a Typical American Community (1946), and Power of the Ballot: A Handbook for Black Political Participation (1973). In addition to these monographs, the organization began publishing The State of Black America in 1976. The State of Black America is the annual Urban League report that addresses the issues central to Black America in the current year. The publication is a barometer of the conditions, experiences and opinions of Black America. It examines black progress in education, homeownership, entrepreneurship, health and other areas. The publication forecasts certain social and political trends and proposes solutions to the community’s and America’s most pressing challenges. Newer works include Crime and Justice in Black America by Christopher E. Stone (1999) a special report entitled The Impact of Social Security on Child Poverty by Valerie A. Rawlston (2000) and The Urban League’s Assessment of the President’s Education Plan (2001) by Hugh B. Price, NAACP President and CEO.

The State of Black America 2006 report was compiled and analyzed against the backdrop Hurricanes Katrina and Rita The 2006 report stated that Black Americans continued to hover at 0.73 of the status of White Americans.

The publishing program of the Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League focused on the publication of its newspaper, The Negro World. The motto of the U.N.I.A. was “One God! One Aim! One Destiny.” The Negro World was a weekly newspaper founded in 1918 was published in French and Spanish as well as English. In it African history and heroes were glorified. The UNIA also published two volumes called The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, which were compiled and edited by Amy Jacques-Garvey from 1923 to 1925.

COMMERCIAL PUBLISHERS

Until the 1960s, most African American commercial book publishing enterprises were short-lived. Two exceptions to this phenomenon existed, however: Broadside Press in Detroit and Third World Press in Chicago. Established by Dudley Randall in 1965, Broadside Press, which remains active, published poetry by African American authors-many of whom became icons later in life-such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Danner, Robert Hayden, Langston Hughes, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Don L. Lee (Haki R. Madhubuti), Sonia Sanchez, Melvin Tolson, and Margaret Walker. Following in the footsteps of Randall, in 1967, Haki Madhubuti founded Third World Press. Third World Press is now the oldest continually-operating African American commercial book publisher in the United States. In 1969, Dempsey Travis founded Urban Research Press.

Over the years, African American publishers have learned that a sizable African American readership exists. Since 1970 several major African American publishers have emerged. In 1978, Black Classic Press was founded by librarian Paul Coates to publish obscure, but significant, works by and about people of African descent. In 1981, Open Hand Publishing Inc. was founded by Anna Johnson.

Inspired by the dearth of books for his courses, former Rutgers University African Studies instructor Kassahun Checole founded the Africa World Press in 1983 to publish material on the economic, political, and social development of Africa. By the end of the twentieth century, African World Press, which published nearly 60 titles annually, was the premier publisher of books on African, African American, Caribbean, and Latin American issues. Its sister company, Red Sea Press, established in 1985, was one of the largest distributors of material by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

Just Us Books, Inc., founded by writer Wade Hudson and graphic artist Cheryl Willis Hudson, publishes books and educational material for children that focus on the African American experience. The idea to start the company first came to Cheryl in 1976, when she was unable to find African American images to decorate her daughter’s nursery. Just Us Books published its first book in 1988—an alphabet book featuring African American children posed to create the letters. The company had sales of $1.6 million in its 2002 fiscal year. Diaspora Press of America, which publishes African American Diasporic folktales, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children’s stories and Amber Books, which publishes self-help and career-guide books the 1995.

Independent African American-owned book stores have benefitted from a resurgence of African American authors and an abundance of titles, but major bookstore chains make competition stiff. Although African Americans’ book buying grew from $181 million in 1990 to $296 million in 1995, with the decline in hardcover sales, publishers were more cautious about placing books with specialty stores for fear that a book would lose mainstream appeal.

With the increasing demand for African American–oriented books, especially those written by African Americans, two diverging opinions arose from the African American literary community. Some believed that the creation of imprints like Strivers Row (Villard/Random House), Amistad (HarperCollins), Harlem Moon (Random House), and Dafina Books (Kensington) diminished the opportunity to showcase different genres. Furthermore, this faction insisted that African American books published by major white companies were too formulaic. Others believed that the abundance of African American books allowed for all kinds of literature thus, ultimately increasing the number of African American authors published each year. Although the two groups disagreed on the quality of African American literature being published, both agreed that the proliferation of African American writers and the subsequent successful sales of their titles were most important, especially if they retain long-term marketability.

COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

In the 1990s, African American comics peaked in popularity. Once relegated to a form of children’s entertainment, comic books found an audience with young adults in their twenties to thirties. In fact, in 1990, Cable News Network (CNN) noted that sales of multiracial comics had jumped 9 percent, thus accounting for 10 percent of all comic book sales. One reason for the growth among the African American adult readership is collectibility-since most African American series are short-lived, each issue has the potential to become a rarity. Another reason is the fact that African American comics now better reflect the cultural and artistic concerns of the African American community.

African American characters of yore, often grotesquely drawn by whites, were either sidekicks or afterthoughts—never the stars. For example, Ebony, an African American character, paraded around with white superhero The Spirit in the 1940s. Meanwhile, Captain America had Falcon, his black version of the Lone Ranger’s Native American sidekick Tonto. Other African American characters were portrayed as ignorant, uneducated, and inept at worst. Blatantly stereotypical, most were created and drawn by white males who did not know much about the reality of African Americans. Over the years, the status of African American comic book characters evolved in the same negative ways that whites’ perceptions of blacks did. By the 1960s and 1970s, African Americans were depicted either as drug addicts or Uncle Toms.

True change did not occur until a few enterprising African Americans took matters into their own hands. By 1993, Africa Rising Comics, Afrocentric Books, Dark Zulu Lies, Omega 7 Comics, and UP Comics had created ANIA (the Swahili word for “serve and protect”) Comics under the leadership of Eric Griffin. The group’s goal was to become a major publishing force by pooling their talents. The mainstream comic book publishers responded by producing comic books that featured black characters to capitalize on the market that ANIA’s creators started. Disbanding soon thereafter, ANIA’s existence highlighted the growing line of non-white superheroes. Their titles included Brotherman, Malcolm 10, Heru, Zwanna, Purge, and Ebony Warrior.

In the mid-1990s, Big City Comics produced Brotherman, which revolved around a public defender who also fought crime as “the dictator of discipline.” Omega 7 Inc., founded by Alonzo Washington, a former member of ANIA, is based in Kansas City, Kansas. As of 2002, it was the largest independent African American comic book publisher. Omega 7 Inc. introduced fans to The Original Man, a champion of morality and supporter and protector of African American women The Mighty Ace, with an anti-drug, anti-gang, anti-violence message and Darkforce, a revolutionary African American hero. Other characters include Omega Man, Original Boy, Original Woman, and The Omega 7. Washington develops each comic and writes the storylines.

UP Comics offered Purge, which detailed the trials and tribulations of a man whose sole goal was to rid his city of evil. Lionheart, from Prophesy Comics, also emphasized morality. In a unique twist, Castel Publications came up with The Grammar Patrol, multiethnic heros with a penchant for knowing the rules of speech and writing. Geared towards children, it showed that the medium could be educational as well as entertaining.

Most of these companies were completely African American, from the owners and artists to the storywriters and marketers. Mainstream publishers entered the fray when industry giant DC Comics began distributing Milestone Comics in 1991 as part of their new imprint Milestone Media, formerly an African American-owned, independent publisher run by Derek T. Dingle. With a broad, full-process color system at hand, the company made history as the first major publisher to back African American creators. Among their titles have been Hardware, Blood Syndicate, Icon, Kobalt, Shadow Cabinet, Xombi, and Static, the latter featuring a teen hero who also became an animated television program.

Although the desire to read comic books with African American characters and the number of new African American comic books continued to increase, only between 25 and 30 percent of comic book buyers are minorities. Since the demise of ANIA and many other African American independently owned publishers, it became difficult for African Americans to produce their own publications. The two major comic book publishers, DC Comics and Marvel Comics, have both created several or more African American comic book characters and are not usually open to purchasing outside characters unless they can own them outright. In addition, some of the more popular African American comic book characters have been created by whites, for example, Spawn, Luke Cage, The Black Panther, The Falcon, and Blade (the inspiration for the movies starring Wesley Snipes). Therefore, aspiring African American comic book artists have two options: they can find an independent publisher or self-publish. Since both are usually difficult, many artists opt to work on more established characters, like Superman, Spiderman, or Batman, to ensure their financial stability with the goal of eventually saving enough money to publish their own characters. Two notable exceptions are Alex Simmons, creator of Blackjack and P. Skylar Owens, creator of Knightmare, Team Sexecutioner, and CyJax.


19Media

By the early nineteenth century African Americans began to publish their own books, pamphlets, tracts and newspapers. Educated African Americans wanted to speak for themselves and meet the social and intellectual needs of their own communities. Many African Americans felt that racist writers gave such an inaccurate portrayal of blacks, that it was essential to write and publish their own materials to vindicate themselves. There have been more than 100 publishing houses started by African American churches, individuals, organizations, universities and cultural institutions dating back to this period. The publishing industry in the African American community managed to prosper regardless of the obstacles. Since the inception of African American book publishing, three types of publishers have emerged: religious, institutional, and trade publishers.

RELIGIOUS PUBLISHERS

African American religious denominations established religious publishing enterprises in order to publish works that would provide religious instruction and assist the clergy and laity in recording denominational history. Some religious publishers also released books on secular subjects that celebrated some aspect of African American culture or documented African American history.

Prior to the Civil War, two African American religious publishing enterprises existed. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) organized the AME Book Concern in Philadelphia in 1817—the first African American-owned book publishing enterprise in the United States. Publishing its first book in that same year, The Book of Discipline, the AME Book Concern published a host of classic religious and secular books until its operations were suspended in 1952 by the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1841, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church formed the AME Zion Publishing House New York City in 1940. Both of these denominations published devotionals, Biblical studies and commentaries, church histories and biographies, Sunday School materials and hymnals. The AME Sunday School Union and Publishing House, located in Bloomington, Indiana, began its work with literature for Sunday School students in 1882 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1886.

In Jackson, Tennessee, the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (CME)—known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church—started the CME Publishing House in 1870. The CME Publishing House, which only publishes books on religious subjects, is located in Memphis, Tennessee. The Publishing House states that is fourfold purpose it to disseminate official CME proclamations, to publish and distribute denominational literature, to act as the “literary mind of the church,” to record the church‘s history, safeguard the CME doctrine and to increase loyalty to the church through a fuller knowledge and appreciation of the church’s history.

One of the most successful African American religious publishers to come into existence during the nineteenth century was the National Baptist Publishing Board (NBPB). Under the leadership of Dr. Richard Henry Boyd and the auspices of the National Baptist Convention, USA, the NBPB was organized in Nashville in 1896. By 1913, this well-managed firm, publishing religious and secular books, grew into one of the largest African American-owned businesses in the country. In 1915, however, a dispute arose between the National Baptist Convention, USA, and Dr. Richard Henry Boyd over the ownership of the NBPB. In a legal battle, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided in favor of Boyd. The NBPB—now R.H. Boyd Publishing Corp. in honor of its founder—is owned by the Boyd family. With over 100 years of publishing experience, R. H. Boyd continues to thrive as a religious enterprise by publishing hymnals, Bibles and Sunday School materials as well as books about family, education, and history.

Faced with the loss of the NBPB in 1916, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. established the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., in Nashville. Over the years, this firm developed into one of the largest African American-owned publishing enterprises, publishing religious and secular books and pamphlets.

In 1907, the Church of God in Christ established the Church of God in Christ Publishing House in Memphis. Restricting its publications to religious books and pamphlets, this publisher met the ever-expanding need for religious literature for one of the fastest-growing African American religious denominations.

INSTITUTIONAL PUBLISHERS

During the post-Civil War decades of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century, educational, cultural, social, and political institutions published a variety of materials to meet the specific needs of African Americans.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

Hampton Institute became the first African American educational institution to publish books when the Hampton Institute Press was established in 1871. An active publisher until 1940, the Hampton Institute Press published travel books, poetry, textbooks, songbooks, conference proceedings, and The Southern Workman, one of the leading national African American periodicals published between its inception in 1871 and its demise in 1939. Institutions like Hampton played a vital role in preserving primary and secondary resources related to the history of African Americans in general and these institutions in particular. For example, in 1927 the press published a volume edited by R. Nathaniel Dett entitled Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro as Sung at Hampton Institute.

In 1896, the Atlanta University Press entered the book publishing market with the release of Atlanta University Publication Series, which consisted of monographs reporting on the findings of studies conducted by the university’s department of sociology under the direction of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. These works represented some of the earliest studies in urban sociology conducted in the South. The Atlanta University Press remained in operation until 1936. Du Bois was a pioneer not only in African American studies but also in the development of sociological methodology.

Industrial Work of Tuskegee Graduates and Former Students During the Year 1910, compiled by Monroe N. Work (1911), was the first book released by the Tuskegee Institute Press. With the publication of this book and other works by the press, Booker T. Washington sought to publicize the success of Tuskegee’s program to white philanthropists in the North as well as celebrated the achievements of the school‘s alumni. The Tuskegee Institute Press, which was active until 1958, published several other important works including John Kenny’s The Negroes in Medicine (1912) and Lynching by States, 1882–1958 (1958) by Jessie Parkhurst Guzman.

In 1910, another book publishing enterprise was launched on the campus of Tuskegee Institute - the Negro Yearbook Publishing Company. A partnership consisting of Robert E. Park, the famed white sociologist, Emmett J. Scott, secretary to Booker T. Washington, and Monroe N. Work, a sociology professor. This firm published the first edition of The Negro Yearbook in 1912. The most comprehensive reference book to appear to date on African Americans, The Negro Yearbook was highly regarded as the definitive work on statistics and facts on blacks worldwide. The enterprise experienced financial trouble in 1929. The Tuskegee Institute financed its operation until 1952. Between 1912 and 1952, The Negro Yearbook remained a classic model for most general reference works on blacks.

John W. Work’s The Negro and His Song (1915) was the first book issued under the Fisk University Press imprint. During the 1930s and 1940s, when Charles Spurgeon Johnson chaired the university’s department of sociology, Fisk University Press issued several important studies, including E. Franklin Frazier’s The Free Negro Family (1932) The Economic Status of the Negro by Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1933) and People versus Property by Herman Long and Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1947). The last publication released by the Fisk University Press was Build a Future: Addresses Marking the Inauguration of Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1949).

Although the board of trustees of Howard University approved the establishment of a university press on February 17, 1919, no university press existed at the university until 1974. Nonetheless, between 1919 and 1974, several books bearing the “Howard University Press” imprint were published, including The Founding of the School of Medicine of Howard University, 1868–1873 by Walter Dyson (1929) and The Housing of Negroes in Washington, D.C.: A Study in Human Ecology by William H. Jones (1929).

On April 8, 1974, the Howard University Press officially organized as a separate administrative unit within the university. It began with a staff of 12 professionals experienced in book publishing. Its mission remains to support the university by “providing leadership for America and the global community through the publication of noteworthy new scholarship that addresses the contributions, conditions, and concerns of African Americans, other people of African descent, and people of color around the world.” The Press publishes a variety of perspectives and disciplines that advance and deepen knowledge in its areas of focus. These include, but are not limited to: political, economic, and social sciences history health education communications fine arts science and technology literature and drama.

The Howard University Press’s inaugural list of 13 books included such titles as A Poetic Equation: Conversations Between Nikki Giovanni and Margaret Walker (1974) and Saw the House in Half, a Novel by Oliver Jackman (1974). A perpetually popular title is How Europe Under-developed Africa by Walter Rodney, originally published in 1982. Releases since 1999 included: Genocide in Rwanda: A Collective Memory by Carol Pott and John A. Berry Mordecai: The Man and His Message, The Story of Mordecai Wyatt Johnson by Richard I. McKinney Black Writers and Latin America Cross Cultural Affinities by Richard Jackson and The Black Seminole Legacy and North American Politics, 1693–1845 by Bruce Edward Twyman. Two of the press’s popular works which were the direct results of scholarly conferences are Black Bibliophiles and Collectors: Preservers of History edited by Elinor DesVerney Sinnette, W. Paul Coates and Thomas C. Battle (1990) and Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora, edited by Joseph E. Harris, originally published in 1982 but now in its second edition, (1994).

With hundreds of books in print, the Howard University Press-the only African American university press still in existence-continued to flourish as one of the most viable university presses in the country. A popular 2002 volume edited by Elizabeth Clark-Lewis is First Freed: Washington, D.C. in the Emancipation Era. More recent works are A Right Worthy Grand Mission: Maggie Lena Walker and the Quest for Black Economic Empowerment (2003)and Dr. LeSalle D. Leffall, Jr., No Boundaries: A Cancer Surgeon’s Odyssey, (2005).

CULTURAL AND PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS

African American cultural and professional organizations and institutions have also developed publishing programs that include book publishing. The books published by these organizations document areas of African American history and depict various aspects of African American culture.

The need to demonstrate that blacks could excel in literature, arts and sciences led to the formation of the American Negro Academy on March 5, 1897 by Reverend Alexander Crummell, nineteenth century African American scholar, clergyman, and missionary. The American Negro Academy had as its major purpose the production of scholarly works assisting youth in attainments reflecting higher culture the dissemination of truth and the “vindication of the Negro” through raising the level of intellectual pursuits. The Academy quickly organized a publishing program that embraced book publishing. The Academy, whose membership included many of the foremost African American intellectuals of the day, released 21 occasional papers as pamphlets and monographs. Some of these are Crummell’s “Civilization, the Primal Need of the Race,” (1897), Charles C. Cook, “Comparative Study of the Negro Problem,” (1899) and Archibald Grimke, “Ballotless Victim of One-Party Governments,” 1913. All twenty-two of the papers are available in print from Arno Press, (1969). The American Negro Academy ceased to exist in 1928.

The Association for the Study of African-American History (formerly Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History and, originally the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History-began publishing the Journal of African American History (originally the Journal of Negro History) in 1916 and started its book publishing program in 1918. By 1940, the association had published 28 books. After that year, the book publishing activities of the association declined until 1950, when its founder Carter G. Woodson died and provided in his will for the transfer of the Associated Publishers, Inc. to the association. The most enduring work of the press is probably, The Mis-education of the Negro published by Associated Press in 1933. One of Woodson’s famous quotes from the work is:

When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ’proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.

Howard University philosophy professor Alain Locke organized the Associates of Negro Folk Education in Washington, D.C., with a grant from the American Adult Education Association. The Associates published a series of seven books known as the Bronze Booklets from 1935 to 1940. Written by black scholars on various aspects of African American life and edited by Locke, some of the titles included: A World View of Race by Nobel laureate Ralph J. Bunche (1936) The Negro and Economic Reconstruction by T. Arnold Hill (1937) and Negro Poetry and Drama by Sterling Brown (1937).

CIVIL RIGHTS, SOCIAL WELFARE, AND POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS

In 1913, five years after its founding, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched its publishing program with three books: A Child’s Story of Dunbar by Julia L. Henderson Norris Wright Cuney by Maude Cuney Hare and Hazel by Mary White Ovington. In 1914, George Williamson Crawford’s Prince Hall and His Followers appeared, and in 1919, Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889 1918 was released. After 1919, the NAACP published few books, with the organization limiting its publishing to pamphlets, its annual reports, and Crisis, a bimonthly magazine.

Crisis, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois from its inception in 1910 to 1934, gained success was phenomenal popularity, Du Bois later wrote. Circulation rose from several thousand monthly to 50,000 by 1917, peaking finally at more than 100,000 in 1919. Many credit Du Bois and his editorship of the Crisis to the immediate popularity of the NAACP. Today the magazine remains dedicated to discussing critical issues confronting people of color, American society, and the world. In addition, it highlights the historical and cultural achievements of these diverse peoples. Through essays, interviews, and in-depth reporting, writers explore past and present issues concerning race and its impact on educational, economic, political, social, moral, and ethical issues. Each issue is also highlighted with a special section, “The NAACP Today,” which reports on the news and events of the organization on a local and national level.

In contrast, the National Urban League (NUL) has been a very active book publisher. The League first embarked on book publishing in 1927 when it published Ebony and Topaz, an anthology of Harlem Renaissance writers, poets, and artists edited by Charles Spurgeon Johnson. Through the years, NUL released numerous sociological and economic studies on the plight of African Americans, including Negro Membership in Labor Unions (1930), Race, Fear and Housing in a Typical American Community (1946), and Power of the Ballot: A Handbook for Black Political Participation (1973). In addition to these monographs, the organization began publishing The State of Black America in 1976. The State of Black America is the annual Urban League report that addresses the issues central to Black America in the current year. The publication is a barometer of the conditions, experiences and opinions of Black America. It examines black progress in education, homeownership, entrepreneurship, health and other areas. The publication forecasts certain social and political trends and proposes solutions to the community’s and America’s most pressing challenges. Newer works include Crime and Justice in Black America by Christopher E. Stone (1999) a special report entitled The Impact of Social Security on Child Poverty by Valerie A. Rawlston (2000) and The Urban League’s Assessment of the President’s Education Plan (2001) by Hugh B. Price, NAACP President and CEO.

The State of Black America 2006 report was compiled and analyzed against the backdrop Hurricanes Katrina and Rita The 2006 report stated that Black Americans continued to hover at 0.73 of the status of White Americans.

The publishing program of the Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League focused on the publication of its newspaper, The Negro World. The motto of the U.N.I.A. was “One God! One Aim! One Destiny.” The Negro World was a weekly newspaper founded in 1918 was published in French and Spanish as well as English. In it African history and heroes were glorified. The UNIA also published two volumes called The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, which were compiled and edited by Amy Jacques-Garvey from 1923 to 1925.

COMMERCIAL PUBLISHERS

Until the 1960s, most African American commercial book publishing enterprises were short-lived. Two exceptions to this phenomenon existed, however: Broadside Press in Detroit and Third World Press in Chicago. Established by Dudley Randall in 1965, Broadside Press, which remains active, published poetry by African American authors-many of whom became icons later in life-such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Danner, Robert Hayden, Langston Hughes, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Don L. Lee (Haki R. Madhubuti), Sonia Sanchez, Melvin Tolson, and Margaret Walker. Following in the footsteps of Randall, in 1967, Haki Madhubuti founded Third World Press. Third World Press is now the oldest continually-operating African American commercial book publisher in the United States. In 1969, Dempsey Travis founded Urban Research Press.

Over the years, African American publishers have learned that a sizable African American readership exists. Since 1970 several major African American publishers have emerged. In 1978, Black Classic Press was founded by librarian Paul Coates to publish obscure, but significant, works by and about people of African descent. In 1981, Open Hand Publishing Inc. was founded by Anna Johnson.

Inspired by the dearth of books for his courses, former Rutgers University African Studies instructor Kassahun Checole founded the Africa World Press in 1983 to publish material on the economic, political, and social development of Africa. By the end of the twentieth century, African World Press, which published nearly 60 titles annually, was the premier publisher of books on African, African American, Caribbean, and Latin American issues. Its sister company, Red Sea Press, established in 1985, was one of the largest distributors of material by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

Just Us Books, Inc., founded by writer Wade Hudson and graphic artist Cheryl Willis Hudson, publishes books and educational material for children that focus on the African American experience. The idea to start the company first came to Cheryl in 1976, when she was unable to find African American images to decorate her daughter’s nursery. Just Us Books published its first book in 1988—an alphabet book featuring African American children posed to create the letters. The company had sales of $1.6 million in its 2002 fiscal year. Diaspora Press of America, which publishes African American Diasporic folktales, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children’s stories and Amber Books, which publishes self-help and career-guide books the 1995.

Independent African American-owned book stores have benefitted from a resurgence of African American authors and an abundance of titles, but major bookstore chains make competition stiff. Although African Americans’ book buying grew from $181 million in 1990 to $296 million in 1995, with the decline in hardcover sales, publishers were more cautious about placing books with specialty stores for fear that a book would lose mainstream appeal.

With the increasing demand for African American–oriented books, especially those written by African Americans, two diverging opinions arose from the African American literary community. Some believed that the creation of imprints like Strivers Row (Villard/Random House), Amistad (HarperCollins), Harlem Moon (Random House), and Dafina Books (Kensington) diminished the opportunity to showcase different genres. Furthermore, this faction insisted that African American books published by major white companies were too formulaic. Others believed that the abundance of African American books allowed for all kinds of literature thus, ultimately increasing the number of African American authors published each year. Although the two groups disagreed on the quality of African American literature being published, both agreed that the proliferation of African American writers and the subsequent successful sales of their titles were most important, especially if they retain long-term marketability.

COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

In the 1990s, African American comics peaked in popularity. Once relegated to a form of children’s entertainment, comic books found an audience with young adults in their twenties to thirties. In fact, in 1990, Cable News Network (CNN) noted that sales of multiracial comics had jumped 9 percent, thus accounting for 10 percent of all comic book sales. One reason for the growth among the African American adult readership is collectibility-since most African American series are short-lived, each issue has the potential to become a rarity. Another reason is the fact that African American comics now better reflect the cultural and artistic concerns of the African American community.

African American characters of yore, often grotesquely drawn by whites, were either sidekicks or afterthoughts—never the stars. For example, Ebony, an African American character, paraded around with white superhero The Spirit in the 1940s. Meanwhile, Captain America had Falcon, his black version of the Lone Ranger’s Native American sidekick Tonto. Other African American characters were portrayed as ignorant, uneducated, and inept at worst. Blatantly stereotypical, most were created and drawn by white males who did not know much about the reality of African Americans. Over the years, the status of African American comic book characters evolved in the same negative ways that whites’ perceptions of blacks did. By the 1960s and 1970s, African Americans were depicted either as drug addicts or Uncle Toms.

True change did not occur until a few enterprising African Americans took matters into their own hands. By 1993, Africa Rising Comics, Afrocentric Books, Dark Zulu Lies, Omega 7 Comics, and UP Comics had created ANIA (the Swahili word for “serve and protect”) Comics under the leadership of Eric Griffin. The group’s goal was to become a major publishing force by pooling their talents. The mainstream comic book publishers responded by producing comic books that featured black characters to capitalize on the market that ANIA’s creators started. Disbanding soon thereafter, ANIA’s existence highlighted the growing line of non-white superheroes. Their titles included Brotherman, Malcolm 10, Heru, Zwanna, Purge, and Ebony Warrior.

In the mid-1990s, Big City Comics produced Brotherman, which revolved around a public defender who also fought crime as “the dictator of discipline.” Omega 7 Inc., founded by Alonzo Washington, a former member of ANIA, is based in Kansas City, Kansas. As of 2002, it was the largest independent African American comic book publisher. Omega 7 Inc. introduced fans to The Original Man, a champion of morality and supporter and protector of African American women The Mighty Ace, with an anti-drug, anti-gang, anti-violence message and Darkforce, a revolutionary African American hero. Other characters include Omega Man, Original Boy, Original Woman, and The Omega 7. Washington develops each comic and writes the storylines.

UP Comics offered Purge, which detailed the trials and tribulations of a man whose sole goal was to rid his city of evil. Lionheart, from Prophesy Comics, also emphasized morality. In a unique twist, Castel Publications came up with The Grammar Patrol, multiethnic heros with a penchant for knowing the rules of speech and writing. Geared towards children, it showed that the medium could be educational as well as entertaining.

Most of these companies were completely African American, from the owners and artists to the storywriters and marketers. Mainstream publishers entered the fray when industry giant DC Comics began distributing Milestone Comics in 1991 as part of their new imprint Milestone Media, formerly an African American-owned, independent publisher run by Derek T. Dingle. With a broad, full-process color system at hand, the company made history as the first major publisher to back African American creators. Among their titles have been Hardware, Blood Syndicate, Icon, Kobalt, Shadow Cabinet, Xombi, and Static, the latter featuring a teen hero who also became an animated television program.

Although the desire to read comic books with African American characters and the number of new African American comic books continued to increase, only between 25 and 30 percent of comic book buyers are minorities. Since the demise of ANIA and many other African American independently owned publishers, it became difficult for African Americans to produce their own publications. The two major comic book publishers, DC Comics and Marvel Comics, have both created several or more African American comic book characters and are not usually open to purchasing outside characters unless they can own them outright. In addition, some of the more popular African American comic book characters have been created by whites, for example, Spawn, Luke Cage, The Black Panther, The Falcon, and Blade (the inspiration for the movies starring Wesley Snipes). Therefore, aspiring African American comic book artists have two options: they can find an independent publisher or self-publish. Since both are usually difficult, many artists opt to work on more established characters, like Superman, Spiderman, or Batman, to ensure their financial stability with the goal of eventually saving enough money to publish their own characters. Two notable exceptions are Alex Simmons, creator of Blackjack and P. Skylar Owens, creator of Knightmare, Team Sexecutioner, and CyJax.


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