Supporting those within the POC community is absolutely necessary. Among those within the publishing industry, only about 5 percent of publishing houses are Black-owned, according to Statista.com. However, there are still many publishing houses that you can support in order to increase the prevalence of POC in publishing. Reading from these Black-owned publishing houses is a sure way to endorse a diverse group of authors.
The History of Black-Owned Publishing Houses
Back in the 1800s through the early 1900s, major newspapers didn’t run African-American obituaries. Black newspapers were primarily for job opportunities, retailers that didn’t discriminate, and charity events. The U.S. Black Press began in 1827 and is nearly 200 years old. John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish started the Freedom Journal, thus beginning the Black Press. Its peak began in the 1920s when significant newspapers ignored Black America. Because of this, Black publishers grew to become very successful, and in the 1960s through the 1970s, there was a rise in Black publishing houses.
The Black Press is still around today and thriving. Over a hundred years later, they are comprised of many different publishers. Although many Black newspapers from the ’60s and ’70s went out of business, more emerge today. Some very successful news websites include Black Voice News and The Root. Read on to see what other Black publications are out there and what they have to offer!
Support These Black-Owned Publishers:
1. 2Leaf Press
2Leaf Press is a publishing house that was established in 2011 to publish alternative fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and bilingual works. They look to publish activists, academics, poets, and authors that communicate stories that everyone can connect with. One of their focuses is to publish books that challenge social justice issues through poetry and non-fiction. 2Leaf Press is the first U.S. publisher that is led by a Black/brown woman, Gabrielle David, to be marketed and distributed by the University of Chicago Press. This is no small feat!
Africa World Press Books was formed in 1983 and publishes non-fiction, poetry, and photographic books. They have a sister company, The Red Sea Press, which was created to distribute books from over 250 companies. Their primary focus is to produce content on Africa’s history, culture, and politics. Grab a book from this publishing house, and you’ll learn about important African history and politics.
Founded in 1967, Third World Press is the world’s oldest Black publishing company and the largest independent press with a Black owner! The company publishes fiction, non-fiction, and poetry books with cultural and political themes. Third World Press also runs a network of three charter schools alongside publishing. They are passionate about contributing to the tradition of Black literature, educational experience, and institutional development.
Just Us Books was formed in 1987 and is still recognized as a leader in publishing multicultural children’s books. This publishing house was constructed by Wade and Cheryl Hudson, who were searching for children’s books that reflected the diversity of Black history, heritage, and experiences. The couple embarked on a mission to produce the kind of positive books they wanted for their own children. This company has also been known for providing many Black artists their first opportunity within children’s publishing. It’s worth checking them out if you want to find new and seasoned illustrators and writers.
Formed in 2017, BlackGold Publishing was created to provide exclusive opportunities to Virginia’s local indie authors. BlackGold Publishing still strives to grow the visibility of Black and ethnic publications. BlackGold’s titles have won awards such as The Gavel Award, Kindle’s Top 100 Award, and the Indie Author Award. This publishing house constantly looks to create inclusive and diverse opportunities for its staff and authors. Support them today by picking up one of their many books online.
Founded in 1978, Black Classic Press was created in Maryland and publishes rare and culturally significant books about people of African descent. It is one of the oldest indie Black-owned publishing houses in the U.S.! In 1997, famous novelist Walter Mosley made a groundbreaking decision to publish his Gone Fishin’ manuscript with Black Classic Press in order to prove that it was possible to publish outside of mainstream companies and still find success. This publishing house specializes in republishing works that are out of print and often forgotten.
Amber Communications Group is the largest Black-owned publisher of self-help books and music biographies in the country! They were the first African-American indie publisher to get a multi-book co-publishing deal with a major publishing house, Wiley. They were also the first book publisher to have had 35 titles licensed by Black Expressions Book Club. Clearly, Amber Communications Group is finding plenty of success.
If you’re looking for children’s books, African American Images focuses on producing educational content for children and young adults. This publisher looks to create Afrocentric books promoting specific values such as collectivity, self-esteem, liberation, and skill development. The founder is Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, and he has written over 40 books, which include some U.S. national bestsellers.
Moore Black Press was founded in 1997 by poet Jessica Care Moore when she decided to stop looking for a publishing deal from large publishing houses. They aim to endorse and celebrate voices in Black poetry. Some of their first poets signed include Saul Williams, Asha Bandele, Danny Simmons, and Newark mayor Ras Baraka. Moore Black Press hopes to be a leading voice for Black poets, including academic poets and spoken word artists. They bring a diverse group of artists into the world of books, as they have published several thousands of books since their emergence.
There is an abundance of publishing houses that are looking to increase inclusivity and produce books for the POC community that we’ve included here. These groundbreaking publishers are aplenty and publish extraordinary books that are tailored to your every bookish need. There is a genre within each, made for absolutely everybody.
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