The History of Path Press


Bennett Johnson founder of Path Press Inc.

Bennett Johnson founder of Path Press Inc.

Path Press, one of the first Black-owned publishing companies in the United States, was formally launched in Chicago in 1969. The press had been in the works since as early as 1961, when Bennett J. Johnson and Herman C. Gilbert (the late author of The Negotiations)—along with novelist Frank London Brown and the journalist Gus Savage, who later became a member of Congress—first began discussing the venture. A business prospectus was written in 1962, and the press was incorporated the next year in 1963.

In the year 1969 the first books were published; The Uncertain Sound by Herman C. Gilbert and The Mythmakers by Frank London Brown was published posthumously. Path published a bestseller in 1983, The Negotiations, A Novel of Tomorrow by Herman Gilbert. Among the books that were produced by Path Press was a book by Enoch Waters, American Diary, A Personal History of the Black Press. This book is a seminal work on the history of the Black owned newspapers. Since Waters was an active reporter and a World War II news correspondent, the narrative records many fascinating and extremely interesting facts and anecdotes.

After the passing of Mr. Gilbert in 1997, Bennett Johnson, the President of Path, began to work with Third World Press as its Vice President. One of the main achievements was the publication of The Covenant with Black America by Tavis Smiley which became a New York Times bestseller in 2006.

The decision to reactivate Path Press was based upon the acquisition of several manuscripts that tell stories and are outstanding in creativity. The continued existence of Path Press is a tribute to Herman C. Gilbert and his strong belief in literature for, by and about African American and Third World people.

Still a leader

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Currently, Path Press, Inc. has branched out and since 2014 has published seven titles with four more due to be released in 2019.  This resurgence is proof that this publishing company is still central to the intellectual growth of the Black community and a testament to the sustainability of Black and African American publishers. The creation of Path Press, Inc. has played a major role in the early history of Black publishing as well as in giving Black writers and Black publishers a creative outlet in these turbulent times. Path Press is still playing a significant role in Black publishing in the nation.