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The legacy of Detroit poet and publisher Dudley Randall

May 5, 2015

Detroit publisher and poet Dudley Randall.
Credit Broadside-Lotus Press

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Broadside Press. It was founded in 1965 by African-American poet and publisher Dudley Randall.

This groundbreaking company has published a long and distinguished list of African-American poets and writers.

We explore what Dudley Randall and the Broadside Press mean to African-American literature – and what's being done to mark this 50th anniversary.

In Detroit in the early 1960s, Randall and fellow poets came up with the idea to provide African American poetry to a larger audience.

“Dudley felt that there should be some way to make this easily accessible, not just in academic circles or literary circles but to the average citizen," said Chris Rutherford, chairman of the board of directors of Broadside Press, now the Broadside Lotus Press.

Detroit-based poet, educator, and activist Aurora Harris said black poets in the '60s and '70s were writing about their daily lives. "They wrote about their struggles, family, love, police brutality, poverty, problems with education, discrimination, those types of things."

Harris, also an English lecturer at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, said young black poets today are keeping with a social-political message in their writing, "because some of the similar struggles that were going on in 1965 within black culture are still going on now."

As part of the 50th anniversary, there is an effort underway to digitize the vast collection of poetry that's been published by Broadside. 

Listen to the full interview above.