Reflecting her newly urgent interest in racial consciousness, Brooks changed publishers in 1970, switching from the major press Harper & Row to the small, new Broadside Press. “Everyone who’s black,” she said, “ought to have a black publisher.” In Riot, her first book of poetry released by Broadside, Brooks documents reactions of the global Black community to the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Working with Broadside gave Brooks more freedom to speak directly to Black audiences. In return for this freedom, she donated all royalties from Riot back to the press. With Brooks’s backing, Broadside became a central asset to the Black Arts movement. Known today as Broadside Lotus Press, it is one of the oldest Black-owned US publishers still in operation.

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000)
Design by Cledie Taylor (b. 1926)
Detroit: Broadside Press, 1970
Purchased on the Edwin V. Erbe Jr. Acquisitions Fund, 2020; PML 198519
© Broadside Lotus Press