Charleston’s African-American history book ‘Black Past’ re-released

CHARLESTON, W.Va.– Before Monday, the book “Black Past” was extremely rare to find; however, after working for more than a decade, a reprint has finally been published.

Anthony Kinzer Sr. speaks at the re-release for “Black Past”.

Anthony Kinzer Sr., executive director for the West Virginia Center for African-American Art and Culture announced that the preprint of “Black Past” had finally been accomplished. He had been working to obtain permission from one living author and deceased author’s family.

“Black Past” has been called the definitive source of information about Charleston’s Rich African-American history and was originally published by Anna E. Gilmer and the late James D. Randall. It catalogs businesses, schools, churching and organizations that were vital to the growth of Charleston’s black commercial and residential communities.

“This re-release of the book, “Black Past”, means so much to me,” said Kinzer. “It’s a dramatic pleasure to get this done, because I believe the individuals in the book laid the foundation for what we have today.”

Through the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau 300 copies have been made available, in cooperation with West Virginia State University, for purchase at the WVSU Bookstore, Taylor Books and the West Virginia Marketplace at Capitol Market.

Kinzer said that he hopes the re-print of the book honors those who are featured in it.

“Giving them credit for what they endured and accomplished is the respect that I want them to get and deserve,” he added.

Kinzer thought the book needed to be in the hands of a wider, more diverse audience.

“The value of the book cannot be underestimated in today’s society, because younger generations, and a wider, diverse audience, has to understand what was going on in Charleston back in the early 1900s and the ’60s and how it has changed since then,” he said.

Kinzer praised the authors, businesses and people mentioned and shown in the book, and he also thanked Mike Stuart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, who saw the importance of this project as a young lawyer and worked with Kinzer to get the reprint accomplished.

“Black Past” is being sold for $25.

Story by Jordyn Johnson