Black Classic Press

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Black Classic Press
Black classic logo.gif
Parent companyBlack Classic Press
Founded1978; 44 years ago (1978)
FounderW. Paul Coates
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters locationBaltimore, Maryland, United States
DistributionPublishers Group West
Fiction genresNon-fiction and fiction
ImprintsBlack Classic Press
W.M. DuForcelf

Black Classic Press (BCP) is an African-American book publishing company, founded by W. Paul Coates in 1978. Since then, BCP has published original titles by notable authors including Walter Mosley, John Henrik Clarke, E. Ethelbert Miller, Yosef Ben-Jochannan, and Dorothy B. Porter, as well as reissuing significant works by Amiri Baraka, Larry Neal, W. E. B. Du Bois, Edward Blyden, J. E. Casely Hayford, Bobby Seale, J. A. Rogers, and others.

An affiliated company is BCP Digital Printing, established in 1995 to serve as the printer for Black Classic Press as well as for other companies and organizations.


W. Paul Coates (father of Ta-Nehisi Coates) founded Black Classic Press in 1978 in Baltimore, Maryland, originally working from the basement of his house.[1][2] The company is one of the oldest independently owned Black publishers in operation in the United States.[3]

The primary mission of the press is to publish obscure and significant books by and about people of African descent. John G. Jackson, John Henrik Clarke, and Yosef Ben-Jochannan were major influences in defining the mission and early direction of the press.[4] The company publishes about six titles annually; most are out-of-print historical books that the company brings back into print.


The first books published by the company were pamphlets printed on a photocopier that Coates purchased.[5] In the same vein, he established BCP Digital Printing in 1995 as an affiliated company of Black Classic Press.[3][6] The printing company, a million-dollar business,[6] serves as the printer for the publishing company as well as for other companies and organizations in the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area, and is the only black-owned printing company in the US.[7][8]


Black Classic Press has three imprints:

  • Black Classic Press: Historical reprints that deal with the African diaspora
  • W.M. DuForcelf: Currently defunct since 1994, a statement and a call for self-sufficiency in the African-American community
  • INPRINT EDITIONS: Serves academic books and titles that fall outside the primary mission of Black Classic Press list

Notable authors and titles[edit]

Walter Mosley[edit]

The press gained national attention in 1996 when best-selling author Walter Mosley chose Black Classic Press to publish Gone Fishin′ (1997), the prequel to his popular Easy Rawlins mysteries. Mosley decided to publish a book with a small Black publishing house because he felt it was important "to create a model that other writers, black or not, can look at to see that it's possible to publish a book successfully outside mainstream publishing in New York."[9] The result was so successful that in 2003 the press collaborated again with Mosley to publish What Next: An African American Initiative Toward World Peace (2003), part memoir and part call to action for African Americans after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. The Tempest Tales (2008), Mosley's homage to Langston Hughes' character Jesse B. Semple, was the third collaboration between Mosley and Black Classic Press.

  • Gone Fishin': An Easy Rawlins Novel. Baltimore, MD: Black Classic Press, 1997. ISBN 978-1-574-78025-3, OCLC 36164865
  • What Next: An African American Initiative Toward World Peace. Baltimore, MD: Black Classic Press, 2003. ISBN 978-1-574-78020-8, OCLC 316901591
  • The Tempest Tales. Baltimore, MD: Black Classic Press, 2008. ISBN 978-1-574-78043-7 OCLC 762313150

Selected other publications[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gross, Terry (February 18, 2009). "Ta-Nehisi Coates' 'Unlikely Road to Manhood'". Fresh Air. NPR. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  2. ^ "Black History Month & Baltimore's Black History". Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Pride, Felicia (June 4, 2008). "Manning Up: The Coates Family's Beautiful Struggle in Word and Deed". Baltimore City Paper. Archived from the original on June 6, 2008. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  4. ^ "Black Classic Books About Us". Archived from the original on April 27, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  5. ^ "Paul Coates Publishing Discussion". Eso Won Books. November 7, 2017. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Reid, Calvin, "Printing and Publishing at Black Classic Press", Publishers Weekly, May 22, 2015.
  7. ^ Ingram, Brandon; Courtney Mims (February 25, 2021). "Founded by a former leader of the Black Panther Party, the only black book printing company operates in Baltimore". WMAR-TV. Baltimore. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  8. ^ Brown, Stacy M. (July 3, 2018). "Paul Coates Celebrates 40 Years at Black Classic Press, BCP Digital Printing". Washington Informer. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  9. ^ "NOW with Bill Moyers. Arts & Culture. Walter Mosley Bibliography". NOW with Bill Moyers. PBS. September 6, 2003. Retrieved May 20, 2012.

External links[edit]