I received exciting news this morning from Gayatri Patnaik, Senior Editor at Beacon Press (and editor of my book, Inheriting the Trade) that Beacon announced today “an exclusive agreement to partner with the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. in a new publishing program, ‘The King Legacy.'”
“This partnership brings together the legacy of one of the most important civil rights and social justice leaders in the world with one of the oldest and most respected independent publishing houses in America.”
It is one of the honors of my life to be connected with Beacon Press. For more than a century and a half, Beacon has fulfilled its mission
to affirm and promote these principles: the inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity and compassion in human relations; acceptance of one another; a free and responsible search for truth and meaning; the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process in society; the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; respect for the interdependent web of all existence; and the importance of literature and the arts in democratic life.
Read more about the announcement at the Beacon Broadside, and read the full press release following the break here…May 27th….Boston. Beacon Press announced today an exclusive agreement to partner with the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. in a new publishing program, “The King Legacy,” which will give Beacon the sole right to print new editions of previously published King titles and to compile Dr. King’s writings, sermons, orations, lectures, and prayers into entirely new editions, including significant new introductions by leading scholars. This partnership brings together the legacy of one of the most important civil rights and social justice leaders in the world with one of the oldest and most respected independent publishing houses in America.
Helene Atwan, director of Beacon Press said “We feel enormously privileged to be the new publishers of Dr. King’s work. His vision and his message are more essential than ever in a world where, despite great gains, the global aspects of the radical inequities Dr. King devoted his life to exposing and addressing are all too apparent. He has much to teach us, perhaps as much today as in his own lifetime.” Gayatri Patnaik, executive editor at the press added, “Publishing Dr. King in the age of our first African American president reminds us of his prescience: in addition to being a civil rights legend, he was an early global visionary, deeply concerned about peace and nonviolence, not only in America but indeed the world. And his commitment to the rights of the poor is as important and pressing now as it was fifty years ago.”
Dexter Scott King, representing The Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr. Inc, said “We are very happy to join with Beacon Press to announce that the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. and Beacon Press will be entering into an historic partnership to publish the words and writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Beacon Press will be a dedicated public outlet for his work, and will help bring his urgently needed teachings of nonviolence and human dignity, and his dream of freedom and equality to a new global audience.”
With roots that date back to the abolitionist movement, Beacon is uniquely dedicated to publishing books on social justice, human rights, and racial equality. A department of the Unitarian Universalist Association, the press has published pioneering books on race and social justice, including James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son, Derrick Bell’s Confronting Authority, Cornel West’s Race Matters, Lani Guinier’s Becoming Gentlemen, and Geoffrey Canada’s Fist, Stick Knife, Gun, along with award-winning titles by James Cone, Howard Thurman, Marian Wright Edelman, Robert Moses, and Roger Wilkins.
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a faith community of more than 1000 self-governing congregations that bring to the world a vision of religious freedom, tolerance and social justice. The Rev. William G. Sinkford, president of the UUA, said, “I am delighted that Beacon Press is partnering with the Martin Luther King, Jr. estate to bring Dr. King’s papers to a wider audience. The UUA’s history is connected to Dr. King’s through his call to our ministers to come to Selma in 1965. After Rev. James Reeb’s murder in Selma, it was Dr. King who eulogized his memory at Brown Chapel. And it was Dr. King who, the following Spring, delivered a major lecture on race, ‘Don’t Sleep Through the Revolution,’ to Unitarian Universalists as we gathered at our General Assembly in Florida. Dr. King’s legacy has informed our own work as we struggle as a denomination to understand and reconcile our own history around race and class. We know we still have along way to go to create the Beloved Community, and I believe sharing these visionary works with a new generation of readers will help keep that dream alive.”
Tom Hallock, associate publisher at Beacon, explained the plan, which is to begin with the new editions of the books published in Dr. King’s lifetime that have been unavailable since the 1990s, publishing them on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in 2010, along with a new title, as yet unconfirmed. After that, the press hopes to publish two to three new works each year, working with a range of renowned scholars to introduce each volume, with the assistance of Clayborne Carson, who currently serves as Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. The University of California’s The King Papers Project, a comprehensive multi-volume collection of King’s work, will continue to issue hardcover volumes intended for scholars and libraries. Dr. Carson, who is also Executive Director of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection, will be taking on the additional role of General Editorial Advisor for The King Legacy.