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Black Classic Press

Black Classic Press Blog

How an Ex-Black Panther Waged a Successful, Four-Decade Revolution In Publishing Without Planning To

Posted by Natalie Stokes-Peters on

The following article was published in the Atlanta Black Star on February 22 and was written by D. Amari Johnson.

Paul Coates never planned to become a member of the Black Panther Party. Recently returned from a three-year military stint in Vietnam, the Philadelphia native and avid reader relocated to Baltimore in 1968, where he subsequently began “hanging around” the Party, not as a member, but as a community worker.

“At that time,” Coates clarifies, “you didn’t join the Party. The Party joined you.”

Paul Coates certainly never planned to become a leader in the Black Panther Party. After the Baltimore chapter was “wiped out” by politically motivated arrests and its members forced into hiding, Coates, still a community worker, traveled to New York to let the Party’s East Coast leadership know of the precarious local situation. Upon informing them there was “nobody left in Baltimore” outside of himself and a few other community workers, he recalls, “one brother said, ‘Well I put you in charge.’” Caught off guard, Coates quickly responded that he had no desire to do so. The Panther leader persisted, and the two went back and forth until Coates protested, “I can’t be in charge. I am not even a Panther!”

The response he received would settle the debate once and for all.

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Ta-nehisi Comes Home to ASALH

Last month I had the wonderful experience of attending the Association for the Study of African American Life and History's annual conference. The highlight for me was attending the luncheon on Saturday. My son Ta-nehisi Coates was the special guest speaker. I sat through the luncheon thinking about his first ASALH Annual Conference. I smiled as I remembered how his mother [...]

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An Interview with Wade Nobles - The Island of Memes: Haiti's Unfinished Revolution

Publisher’s Note, when Dr. Wade Nobles approached me about publishing his latest book, The Island of Memes: Haiti’s Unfinished Revolution. I was immediately on board.I knew this book would be an important contribution and that Wade’s notion of a guided case study with Haiti serving as an exemplar for capturing the story and voice of African people using an African [...]

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A Fierce Farewell: Gloria Naylor’s Literary Legacy

I first met Gloria Naylor when she visited the campus of the College of William and Mary during my junior year. I was part of a small group of students designated as her hosts while she was at the college. The Women of Brewster Place miniseries, starring Oprah Winfrey, Lynn Whitfield, Cicely Tyson, and Mary Alice, had aired in 1989 [...]

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BCP Director, Paul Coates, talks the past and future of Black Classic Press

Printing and Publishing at Black Classic PressIndependent PublishingBy Calvin Reid | May 22, 2015 After running Black Classic Press for nearly 40 years, founder W. Paul Coates said he is proud of his work as an independent publisher. But he said his work running BCP Digital Printing, a short-run printing operation, may be more significant: “I don’t [...]

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In One Tweet, Ta-Nehisi Coates Reveals the Power of Being Born Black

Ta-Nehsi Coates (TC) is once again beating up on Andrew Sullivan. this time he is using tweets. now that's pretty good. challenging the system of white racism with 40 character thoughts, and not a whole lot of them at that. along the way he's giving out shout outs to Howard and HBCU's in general. i [...]

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