Dudley Randall is best known as a poet, publisher, editor and founder of Broadside Press.
It was during the civil rights years that Randall’s writings began to appear in print on a regular basis. In 1963, Randall’s most prominent poem, Ballad of Birmingham, was published on the front page of Correspondence. and ultimately changed Randall’s life. Upon the request of a folk singer Jerry Moore, Randall’s poem, Dressed All in Pink became lyrics for several of Moore’s songs. To protect his copyrights as an author, Randall printed the poems as Broadsides.
Subsequently, Randall began publishing the Broadside Series, including poems by other black poets under the title, Poetry of the Negro Revolt. In 1966, Randall expanded his publishing efforts to books, with the publication of Poem Counter-poem and in 1967 with, For Malcolm X: Poems on the Life and Death of Malcolm X.
Broadside Press quickly became the most productive and influential publishing house for black poetry. Broadside published anthologies, series, and individual collections by up and coming poets, such as Etheridge Knight, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, and Don L. Lee (Haki Madhubuti). Additionally, established poets, such as Sterling Brown, Margaret Walker, Naomi Long Madgett, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Pinkie Gordon Lane all drew interest from Broadside Press.
From 1965 to 1975, Randall’s Broadside Press published 93 book titles, and printed a half million books that were distributed throughout the world.
In 1987, Randall retired from Broadside Press, and in 1990, was honored at the Broadside PressTwenty-Fifth Anniversary celebration. In 1997 Randall was also honored by the Chrysler Corporation Fund, which donated an endowed scholarship in his honor to Wayne State University.
Randall graduated from Eastern High School (1930). He earned a B.A. in English from Wayne State University (1949), and went on to complete his Master’s in Library Science from the University of Michigan (1951). In 1981, Mayor Coleman A. Young named Randall as Detroit’s poet laureate.