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The Amistad is Howard University’s premier student-run literary arts journal. Our mission is to elevate the creative voices of the Black diaspora through poetry, fiction, interviews, and visual art. We strive to publish strong up-and-coming talent in conjunction with established writers in order to speak directly to the Black community. Under Howard’s banner, we are continuing the legacy of great alumni, e.g. Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Amiri Baraka,  Lucille Clifton, and Paul Laurence Dunbar, by publishing unique work that push the boundaries of craft and theme. This means we pride ourselves on being open to all writers and artists that speak directly to our continuing mission. 


The Amistad is Howard University’s longest running undergraduate journal, publishing work that is distinct and artful. The journal adopted its name as homage to the 53 slaves taken from Sierra Leone to  Puerto Príncipe, Cuba aboard the La Amistad in 1839. The slaves revolted against their captors. 34 of the survivors earned freedom after a successful trial in New York. The Amistad is published to honor the collective effort of the slaves’ fight for liberation.


The Amistad, was founded in 1996 by a group of Howard students. It was conceived as a vehicle to publish on-campus voices. The first journal had a small print production under the guidance of faculty members Ms. Angela Jackson and Dr. Jon Woodson. Amaud Johnson and Misty Starks served as the first Editors-in-Chief. The journal would continue to publish off and on for several years including the first web issue in 2000. 

In the mid-2000s, Abdul Ali took over as managing editor after a few years of latency. Due to a constantly graduating staff, the journal eventually faltered with 2010 serving as the last published issue despite a call for submissions the next spring.


Sensing a need to celebrate Howard's literary traditions, Prof. Nick Seifert resurrected the journal in 2019. After recruiting a handful of talented volunteers, the work of rebuilding began. That following spring semester, the staff published the first journal in nine years.

Determined ensure the journal's longevity and permanent place in Department of English, The Amistad has worked hard to increase readership, secure funding, and work with the local community. Since its most recent resurrection, The Amistad has published up-and-coming writers alongside established writers like Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Jesmyn Ward. 


Today, the staff is composed entirely of Howard undergraduate students who earn academic credit for their work on The Amistad. The course helps students understand the process of publishing poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and selected artistic works. The class also workshops their own creative pieces thereby gaining further insight into the work of writers, editors, designers, production/operational managers. It also solidifies The Amistad as an important component for undergraduate creative expression.


The Amistad continues to grow by fulfilling the mission set out by its original students. The staff looks forward to soldiering on and forging its future.​

The Amistad is a proud member of the Community of Literary Magazines & Presses

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