In early 2022, Yale University Press will debut Black Lives, a series of brief biographies of Black individuals who profoundly shaped history.
Each book in the series will be edited by a board consisting of Yale University's chair of the Department of African American Studies, Jacqueline Goldsby; Yale history professor David Blight; and Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Initial titles, and the number of titles the press intends to publish per season, have not been announced.
The Black Lives series, according to Gates, is “committed to seeding a massive cultural project aimed at telling the collective African American epic through the life stories of the individual historical figures who created it.” But don’t mistake it for just another history textbook. In the announcement of the series, Goldsby adds that they’re asking authors for “interpretations and arguments that challenge what we think we know about Black history.”
John Donatich, director of Yale University Press, echoes this expansive definition of biography as more than just a list of dates and events. “This series will trace the formative and transformative impact of the lives of Black people on the world,” he said. “These interpretive biographies embody significant contributions and, at times, vivid critiques of definitions of race and practices of racism in their societies.”