Founded in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1969 by Robert Chrisman and Nathan Hare, THE BLACK SCHOLAR is the first journal of black studies and research. In it academics, activists, artists and political leaders come to grips with basic issues confronting Afro-America, the diaspora, and Africa. We have debated sexism, multiculturalism, affirmative action, reparations and Ebonics; explored decolonization from South Africa and Cuba to Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaigns; analyzed events from the US invasion of Grenada to the Million Man March, Hurricane Katrina and the attack on Ethnic Studies in Arizona. Our inquiry has ranged from political economy, Black Psychology, and African Literature to Black Power, Popular Culture and music, while highlighting creative figures from Richard Wright and Paule Marshall to Spike Lee.
The journal has become a veritable who’s who, with names such as Derrick Bell, John Henrik Clarke, Darlene Clark Hine, Carolyn Cooper, St Clair Drake, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Lewis R. Gordon, Patricia Hill-Collins, Robin D. G. Kelley, Julianne Malveaux, Manning Marable, Adolph Reed, and Hortense Spillers. We have published artists such as Elizabeth Catlett, Katherine Dunham, Lorraine Hansberry, Audre Lorde, Max Roach, activists and political leaders such as Kwame Ture/Stokeley Carmichael, Angela Davis, Julian Bond, Amilcar Cabral, Nawal El Saadawi, Julius Nyerere, Bobby Seale and US representatives Shirley Chisholm, Ron Dellums, and Barbara Lee.
TBS has also featured interviews with figures like Muhammed Ali, Maya Angelou, Arthur Ashe, James Baldwin, Octavia Butler, Alex Haley, C.L.R. James, Jacob Lawrence, Queen Mother Audley Moore, Walter Rodney, McCoy Tyner, and Robert F. Williams. Among the writers we have published are Afro-Europeans Jackie Kay and May Opitz; Dennis Brutus, Agostinho Neto, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Wole Soyinka from Africa; Caribbean writers Rene Depestre, Nicolas Guillen, Nancy Morejón, Andrew Salkey; and US writers Margaret Walker Alexander, Amiri Baraka, Wanda Coleman, Jayne Cortez, Ernest J. Gaines, June Jordan, Yusef Komunyakaa, Ishmael Reed, Sonia Sanchez, Ntozake Shange, and Alice Walker.
In June 2012, TBS relaunched with new editors, and new active and advisory boards. It is now peer reviewed and published four times a year through Routledge Press starting in 2015. Due in part to the impact of TBS, Black/Africana Studies and its sub-disciplines have become legitimate spaces of scholarly inquiry, however a paucity of intellectual spaces focused on black thinking remains. We are responding to the Black/Africana Studies revolution and its institutionalization of black scholarship; the explosion of various forms of racial, ethnic, gender and sexuality studies; vast changes in immigration patterns; the transformation to global capitalism, the end of Apartheid in South Africa; the election of President Barack Obama; and the burgeoning of a black middle class alongside the metastasizing of an increasingly criminalized black underclass.
The current revitalization of TBS’ aims is largely an updating of its initial vision, though motivated to participate in a global black intellectual and cultural world that has changed significantly since the journal’s founding. TBS continues to engage and cultivate differential black political conversations and cultural expressions from across the black world while maintaining its core commitment to tough-minded thinking and an emancipatory project. Thus we welcome submissions (in English and in translation) from anywhere in the world as long as they meet the criteria articulated on our website and in the journal. All disciplines and fields are welcome as long as they appreciate the unique opportunity TBS offers to speak to others outside one’s area. But perhaps most important, we imagine ourselves as the forum for ideas and conversations that have yet to emerge.