Exhibit by Doug Johnson with assistance from Octavio Olvera and Annie Watanabe-Rocco
In 1965, DudleyRandall, a librarian and poet living in Detroit, decided to copyright two of his poems by publishing them as broadsides (essentially large leaflets). He dubbed these the Broadside Series, and then sought permission from other African-American poets to publish some of their works in a similar fashion. At first, Randall's project was simply to offer known works in an attractive format, but beginning with number 25, Don L. Lee's "Assassination," he concentrated more on distributing poems that had never been published previously. Over the next decade, the Broadside Series grew to ninety-two in number, and stands as one of the most important aspects of the Black Arts Movement.
In 1967, the Broadside Press published For Malcolm X, Poems on the Life and Death of Malcolm X, an anthology of texts inspired by the slain civil rights leader.
In September, 1975, a conference was held in Detroit to celebrate the Press's tenth anniversary. Broadside Memories: Poets I Have Known, served as the program for the three-day event, during which many writers came together to honor Randall's contribution to literary culture. Though the Broadside Series ended later that year, the Press continues to this day. In 2015, it merged with the Lotus Press, another pioneering Detroit publisher, to become the Broadside Lotus Press.
All items are available in Library Special Collections.