Forefront Books has partnered with the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI) to launch a new joint publishing imprint, Frederick Douglass Books. The imprint, the organizations said, is an effort "to establish a pathway for Black and Brown authors to write and publish a professional book with distribution into traditional retailers."
Frederick Douglass Books will primarily publish nonfiction works in such categories as business, history, memoirs, and self-help, with plans to publish between 12-20 titles per year. The imprint's first title will be a new edition of its namesake's classic first autobiography and abolitionist text, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, which was first published in 1845. The second planned title is Striving for Justice: A Memoir of a Black Sheriff in the Deep South by Sheriff Nat Glover.
The imprint will be led by editorial director Kia Harris, whose background comes from outside of the publishing world, including in various leadership roles at such organizations as the Bank of New York, Johnson & Johnson, and Save the Children Federation. Her work at the imprint will be supported by the Forefront Books staff "as needed," the publisher said.
“My great-great-great-grandfather, Frederick Douglass, published the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, in 1845. He understood the vital importance of telling his story and amplifying the voices of enslaved and oppressed peoples,” Kenneth B. Morris Jr., cofounder and president of FDFI, said in a statement. “His NorthStar abolitionist newspaper and three best-selling autobiographies helped nurture a revolution to end slavery in the United States. It is my hope that the Frederick Douglass Books imprint will carry on his legacy of education, activism, and liberation commentary and provide a platform for Black and Brown authors to publish their own narratives.”
In honor of Douglass's 200th birthday, FDFI intends to print and distribute one million hardcover copies of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave to students across the country. That initiative, Morris said, is funded by individual donors, corporations, and foundation grants, pointing as an example to the History Channel, which has provided funding to support the donation of 5,000 books to students in the fall semester.
“A goal of Forefront Books from the beginning was to provide a way to serve the Black and Brown community through a publishing platform,” said Jonathan Merkh, president of Forefront Books. “The Frederick Douglass Family Initiative is the perfect partner with no greater legacy on which to build. Mr. Douglass found ways to cross tough racial and partisan divides and have meaningful dialogue for the greater good.”