Columbia University Press and Howard University Launch a Book Series

Black Lives in the Diaspora: Past / Present / Future aims to publish more robustly in Black studies.

February 27, 2023

The book series Black Lives in the Diaspora: Past / Present / Future, put out by Columbia University Press, is a new partnership between Columbia’s African American and African Diaspora Studies Department and Howard University’s College of Arts and Sciences. This collaboration represents the first step in a larger partnership between the two universities to publish more robustly in Black studies, and to recruit and support a cohort of editorial fellows to provide an entryway for recent HBCU graduates into the publishing industry.

The book series builds on CUP’s history of publications in Black studies and history, sociology, religion, philosophy, and literature, and recognizes the important voice in these fields and scholarly publishing that was lost with the closure of Howard’s university press over a decade ago.

A launch event for the partnership was held recently at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Columbia Professor Farah Jasmine Griffin welcomed the audience. The book series will “showcase scholarship and the writing that enriches our understanding of Black experiences in the past, present, and future,” she said, “with the goal of reaching beyond the academy to intervene in urgent national and international conversations about people and the experiences of people of African American descent.”

The Role of HBCUs in American Higher Education

In his last public New York City appearance before he steps down from his role as president of Howard University, Wayne Frederick delivered the opening remarks. Professor Josef Sorett, dean of Columbia College, and Omari Swinton, chair of Howard’s economics department and co-author of the just-published first book in the series, Vital and Valuable: The Relevance of HBCUs to American Life and Education, then discussed the role of HBCUs in the landscape of American higher education, and the economic realities that HBCUs currently face. Jennifer Crewe, associate provost and director of CUP, delivered final remarks: This partnership, she said, “champions a new era of publishing in the field of Black studies.”

The second book in the series is The Politics of Survival: Black Women Social Welfare Beneficiaries in Brazil and the United States by Gladys Mitchell-Walthour, which will be released in June. The third book is Turn the World Upside Down: Empire and Unruly Forms of Black Folk Culture in the U.S. and Caribbean by Imani Owens, coming in July.

For more information, read a Q&A with book series editors Frank Guridy, a Columbia history professor, and Amy Yeboah Quarkume, professor of Afro-American studies at Howard.

Watch the full video of the Schomburg Center event below: