In a time where powerful political forces are working feverishly to erase the histories, experiences and advancement of historically marginalized communities nationwide, The Emancipator fills a void in today’s media landscape.
Co-founded by bestselling author and scholar Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and Washington Post columnist Bina Venkataraman, The Emancipator is an award-winning digital magazine reimagining the nation’s first abolitionist newspapers—for a new day.
Our mission, like those who came before us, is to turn public opinion against racism. Through multimedia content, commentary and events nationwide, we explain and explore solutions to racial inequality in all aspects of life. We bring light to the history and harms of structural racism, and contextualize current events to help our audience see the throughlines—and the way forward.
Our content bridges a gap. While many affinity publications cater to specific communities, our platform serves as a central gathering place for marginalized groups and allies to share experiences and ideas about the universal challenges we face. Our work is intersectional and inclusive: the convergence of race, gender, class, ability and sexuality impacts us all.
We aim to disrupt traditional media and the status quo. Mainstream media continues to bend to the attention and needs of established power to the detriment of everyone else. Our work charts a different path, showcasing missing and under-amplified voices and solutions to racial inequality. From health disparities and the wealth gap to voting rights and the criminal legal system, The Emancipator is confronting the biggest racial justice issues of our time.
Abolition for a new day. The Emancipator was created in the wake of the George Floyd movement and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, both which laid bare the staggering racial inequalities that persist in nearly every aspect of American life. To address these issues, our founders drew inspiration from the incredible legacy of 19th century abolitionist newspapers. If those early abolitionists could dare to imagine and advocate for the end of slavery at a time when that was inconceivable, why can’t we do the same for racial inequality? With that, The Emancipator was (re)born.
Though our roots are firmly grounded in the past, The Emancipator’s strategy and operations are built for the future. While other newsrooms play catch up to keep pace with radical changes taking place in news consumption, The Emancipator was designed from the ground up to reflect this reality. Our strategy focuses on social-first storytelling, innovative editorial products and platforms, and community-based events that inspire and engage.
Social that builds unity and understanding. We create original, social-first content in different formats and platforms to meet and engage people where they are (scrolling on their phones). Through authentic reels, stories, timelines, TikTok explainers, online events, comics and more, our content initiates important conversations among and between different communities and fosters deeper mutual understanding and respect between them.
A pioneering approach to video. We put a fresh spin on outdated op-ed pages, producing an award-winning video commentary series that brings important perspectives into the public sphere in an entirely new way. Our succinct video explainers bring our audience up to speed quickly on complex ideas and forgotten history.
Events that enlighten and empower. We partner with local organizations, institutions, newsrooms and communities to host events, solutions circles and convenings that foster critical conversations from coast to coast. We bring different communities and stakeholders together across a broad range of issues to facilitate meaningful dialogue and uncover solutions to drive change.
A few of our guiding principles:
Be unrelenting with the truth. Facts and data tell powerful stories about racial injustice. Let the numbers speak for themselves.
Let imagery do the work. Sometimes a single photograph can say more than any word ever could.
Crystallize the issues. Pull the curtain back on racist policies, practices, and beliefs to help people understand how racism hurts us all.
Look for the throughlines. Respect history. Center the trailblazers who came before us. Remember that looking back may just be the key to moving forward.
Teach, don’t preach. Let people’s lived experiences, community insights, and evidence-based research show us the way. Showcase missing and under-amplified voices — past and present.
Take an optimistic approach. Real, systemic change is long and hard, but it isn’t impossible. (Our predecessors are proof of that). Find and elevate solutions. Celebrate the triumphs along the way.
Chipping away at something as ubiquitous as racial inequity takes time, and our true impact will likely take years to materialize. That said, we have made strides since our launch in April 2023 and are encouraged by our fast-growing audience.
The Emancipator website
We’ve welcomed nearly 2,000 guests to more than 20 online and in-person events, including:
Our staff and contributors have been featured on Boston-based NPR stations WBUR and WGBH to discuss our work and editorial coverage.
The news industry itself (where we hope to exercise thought leadership) is taking note of our work. Recent honors include an Edward R. Murrow Award, 2 Webby nominations, 2 Online Journalism Association nominations, 1 National Association of Black Journalists Award and 2 nominations, among others.