Meet Dr. Haki Madhubuti, The Detroit-born Publisher Combating Myths About African Americans For 55 Years Now

Dr. Haki R Madhubuti. Photo: Third World Press


He rose from humble beginnings to become a literary titan in the 1960s. Dr. Haki Madhubuti, born Don L. Lee in Little Rock, Arkansas, bore the burden of growing up in a poor family in Detroit and Chicago.

He is well-known for his literary abilities as a poet and as a leader of the black power movement.

Dr. Madhubuti’s interest in literary works began as a young boy in Detroit.

He recalled some early books he read, such as Black Boy by Chicagoan Richard Wright, when his mother made him go to the public library.

He claimed that the book’s depictions of black people’s lives captivated his imagination to the point where he couldn’t put it down until he finished reading it page by page in a single day. Following that experience, he visited the library on a regular basis in search of every book written by Wright.

According to Publishers Weekly, Dr. Madhubuti was inspired by prolific poets such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Dudley Randall.

He is quoted as saying that Brooks and Randall are responsible for his literary success and the establishment of the Third World Press Foundation.

When he first met Brooks in the 1960s, he said he had a huge influence on his work.

The renowned author stated that Randall’s ideas inspired him to start the Third World Press company. In the early 1960s, Randall was the mastermind behind many of the works of well-known black poets.

Broadside Press, Brooks’ publishing house, was in charge of putting the works of Brooks, Sonia Sanchez, Audre Lorde, and Madhubuti on book shelves.

Dr. Madhubuti recalled visiting Randall in his home in Detroit in 1966 and getting the idea to become a publisher.

He claimed that he founded Third World Press in his Chicago basement with $400.

With his typewriter and mimeograph, Dr. Madhubuti started his 55-year-old journey as a publisher. In acknowledging his contributions to black empowerment, the Institute of Black World said Dr. Madhubuti fought off misconceptions created around African Americans and their role in building American society.

The Institute said he had carried his readers along a variety of black experiences and achievements in America. He has done this by allowing readers to share the Black experience in America from the perspective of Black writers.

Hundreds of authors, including Derrick Bell, Gil Scott-Herson, and Mari Evans, have had their works published by the renowned poet. The Third World Press may not have the same clout as other American publishers, but Dr. Mahabuti has a national and international following.

He stated that he intends to publish books that will shape his readers’ political consciousness, as well as fiction and nonfiction books for children.

He stated that his mission for establishing the foundation has not changed; he is still committed to spreading the message of black empowerment.

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