Broadside Press

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Broadside Press

The Broadside Press, one of the most influential black presses to emerge during the black arts movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, began operation in 1965 in an attempt to secure copyright privileges to "Birmingham Ballad," a song commemorating the bombing deaths of four young black children at a Birmingham, Alabama, church in September 1963. Located originally in the Detroit home of its founder, poet Dudley F. Randall, Broadside quickly grew in size, requiring larger offices and attracting manuscripts from black artists across the country. The press was particularly successful in publishing poets, many of whom explored the characteristic black arts movement themes of self-pride and anger against white-dominated institutions.

After publishing such poets as Gwendolyn Brooks, Nikki Giovanni, and Audre Lorde, Haki Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, and others, Broadside suffered reverses during the recession of the mid-1970s. By 1975, Broadside's tenth anniversary, operations at the press had to be scaled back. Its finances were in poor condition, forcing Randall to put the press up for sale. In 1977 Randall sold Broadside to the Alexander Crummell Memorial Center, an activist organization within the Episcopal Church.

After several years, however, Randall regained control. He sold the press again in 1985, this time to Detroit schoolteacher and poet Hilda Vest and her husband, Donald, who became the editors and publishers. During the late 1980s and 1990s the press concentrated on helping Detroit poets and authors publish and distribute their works. It also continued the tradition of featuring the work of poets of the black arts movement by publishing its Broadside Classics series. Randall died in 2000.

See also Black Arts Movement; Brooks, Gwendolyn Elizabeth; Giovanni, Nikki; Lorde, Audre; Madhubuti, Haki R. (Lee, Don L.); Sanchez, Sonia


Boyd, Melba Joyce. Wrestling with the Muse: Dudley Randall and the Broadside Press. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

House, Gloria, Albert M. Ward, and Rosemary Weatherston, eds. A Different Image: The Legacy of Broadside Press: An Anthology. Detroit, Mich.: Broadside Press and University of Detroit Mercy Press, 2004.

Joyce, Donald Franklin. Gatekeepers of Black Culture: Black Owned Book Publishing in the United States, 18171981. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1983.

Thompson, Julius Eric. Dudley Randall, Broadside Press, and the Black Arts Movement in Detroit, 19601995. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, 1999.

john c. stoner (1996)
Updated bibliography