Blog of’s Founder & Webmaster Celebrating our Literary Legacy #readingblack


THE BLACK SCHOLAR: Journal of Black Studies and Research

theblackscholartwopage640Volume 1 Number 1 November 1969

Mission Statement From the Inaugural Issue:

THE BLACK SCHOLAR has been born out of the struggle of black scholars, black intellectuals, black leaders — all black people —for an education that will provide meaningful definitions of black existence.

So born, THE BLACK SCHOLAR is the first journal of black studies and research in this country.

We recognize that we must re-define our lives. We must shape a culture, a politics, an economics, a sense of our past and future history. We must recognize what we have been and what we shall be, retaining that which has been good and discarding that which has been worthless.

THE BLACK SCHOLAR shall be the journal for that definition. In its pages, black ideologies will be examined, debated, dis­puted and evaluated by the black intellectual community. Arti­cles which research, document and analyze the black experience will be published, so that theory is balanced with fact, and ideology with substantial information.

We cannot afford division any longer if our struggle is to bear fruit, whether those divisions be between class, caste or func­tion. Nothing black is alien to us.

A black scholar recognizes this fact. He is a man of both thought and action, a whole man who thinks for his people and acts with them, a man who honors the whole community of black experience, a man who sees the Ph.D., the janitor, the businessman, the maid, the clerk, the militant, as all sharing the same experience of blackness, with all its complexities and its rewards.

THE BLACK SCHOLAR is the journal for such a man. It is your journal. Support it.

As I flip through the pages of the very first issue (recently purchased for only $20 via Amazon), I’m impressed by not only by the writers included but the depth, quality and importance of those articles.  It was a reminder to me that there was a large community of people who were wrestling with the complex problems that plagued the Black community, who were actively engaged in making fundamental changes, and who did this from a global perspective.   Perhaps this is still true today.  However, from my vantage point, it feels few of us take seriously the problems within our own families or communities — let alone dealing with them on a global scale.

An article by Sékou Touré, who was then President of the Republic of Guinea, immediately drew my attention.  Touré described in great detail what was taking place in Guinea to recover from the impact of European imperialism and the difficulties in nation building.   Articles by John O. Killens (founder of the National Black Writer’s Conference), Eldridge Cleaver, Stokely Carmichael, and others make this publication an important record of our collective history.

Co-founders Dr. Robert Chrisman and Dr. Nathan Hare

Founded in 1969 by Nathan Hare and Robert Chrisman, The Black Scholar, is one of the first journals dedicated to black studies and research [Journal of African American History first published in 1916 by Carter G. Woodson is perhaps the 1st].  Major African-disasporan and African theorists were represented in its pages.  In a 1995 interview Chrisman attributed much of what exists today to the groundwork laid by the Black Arts Movement [read Kalamu ya Salaam’s article on the Black Arts Movement]:

“If we had not had a Black Arts movement in the sixties we certainly wouldn’t have had national Black literary figures like Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alice Walker, or Toni Morrison because much more so than the Harlem Renaissance, in which Black artists were always on the leash of white patrons and publishing houses, the Black Arts movement did it for itself. What you had was Black people going out nationally, in mass, saving that we are an independent Black people and this is what we produce.”

dr-robert-chrismanUntil last week, I was unfamiliar with the work of co-founder Robert Chrisman.   Through professor and poet Tony Medina, I learned of Chrisman’s recent passing.  Chrisman, the former Editor-in-Chief, died on March 10th, 2013, in his San Francisco home.  He was 75.

Dr. Chrisman earned an MA in Language Arts from San Francisco State College, and a doctorate in English from the University of Michigan. He retired from a Professorship and Chair of Black Studies at University of Nebraska, Omaha, in 2005.

Chrisman edited or authored several books including Pan-Africanism (Bobbs-Merrill, 1974), and The Obama Phenomenon: Toward a Multiracial Democracy (University of Illinois Press, 2011).  He was also an accomplished poet and published two books of poetry including, Minor Casualties: New and Selected Poems (Lotus Press, June 1993).

“Rest In Peace to Robert Chrisman, co-founder of “The Black Scholar,” who died yesterday at the age of 75. May his family, friends, colleagues and fellow writers and scholars find solace in the important and necessary institution and legacy he helped to create and foster—and now, sadly, leaves behind. We are fortunate to inherit such a pioneering literary and scholarly journal reflective of the myriad genius of the African diaspora. May we continue to live up to and emulate his level of commitment and example.” —Tony Medina

dr-nathan-hareCo-founder, Dr. Nathan Hare is often called “the father of black studies.”  Hare holds two Ph.D.’s (in sociology from the University of Chicago, and clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology at San Francisco).  Dr. Hare’s report on the 1969 Pan African Cultural Festival, held in Algiers, is worth the price alone.

Dr. Hare currently runs The Black Think Tank, which he co-founded with his wife, Dr. Julia Hare, in 1979 to promote a movement for better black male/female relationships.  It has since taken on additional issues including; the miseducation of the black child, spearheading a rites of passage movement for black boys, overhauling the public schools, and educating every black man, woman and child.


Poet, Patricia Jones Spears recently expressed her gratitude to The Black Scholar in reaction to the recent passing of Chrisman;

“The Black Scholar was one of the first of this kind of magazines that connected the work and life of Black Academics with cultural producers. One of my proudest days was to have a poem accepted by The Black Scholar and I know there are many poets, visual artists, musicians were pleased to find their work in the same place as essays on history or social science etc. I thank him for such a broad vision. The generation ahead of us is quietly or not so quietly leaving. I am a Southern woman, I lower my head as they pass.”

The Black Scholar (TBS) Is Still Being Published!

The Black Scholar - Volume 38 Number 1, Spring 2008
Volume 38 Number 1, Spring 2008

The TBS website reports: Effective June 2012, TBS has relaunched, with new editors, an expanded editorial and advisory board, and an expanded vision to reflect a new generation of scholars and activists that has emerged in the last twenty years.

We are responding to the Black Studies revolution and the institutionalizing of black scholarship; the explosion of various forms of racial, ethnic, gender and sexuality studies; vast changes in immigration patterns; 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. New questions about the meanings or value of American or global blackness and the operation of racial politics and cultural production are being posed. We are now peer-reviewed.

The new editors—Laura Chrisman, Editor-in-Chief; Sundiata Cha-Jua, Senior Editor; Louis Chude-Sokei, Senior Editor—are committed to continuing the tradition of political engagement while reimagining the journal in keeping with these changes in the field and actively participating in its redefinition.  We will strengthen its position as the primary space for interdisciplinary, cross-cultural black reflection and conversation. Though many of our clientele have come to regard TBS as primarily an academic journal due to our scholarly rigor, we continue to welcome non-specialist writers and to maintain the journal’s commitment to a broader community of readers.  Visit to learn more. wishes The Black Scholar continued longevity and success as they continue to fill a gaping holes in how our story and history are told.


Troy D. Johnson is the President, founder and webmaster of, LLC (The African American Literature Book Club). Launched in March of 1998, has grown to become the largest and most frequently visited website dedicated to books and films by and about people of African descent.