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 journal, originally called Amistad, was created in the mid-1990s by a group of Howard students. It was conceived as a vehicle to publish on-campus voices. With a constantly changing staff, due to factors like graduation and commitment demands, the journal's longevity faltered. 2010 was the last published issue despite a call for submissions the next spring.
In the fall of 2018, faculty member Nick Seifert resurrected the journal. After recruiting a handful of talented volunteers, the work of rebuilding began. The new staff committed to the rebranded the journal permanently as The Amistad to mark the forward transition. That following spring semester, the staff published the first journal in eight years.
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 showcasing budding literary talent alongside established writers. The staff looks forward to soldiering on and forging its future.