|Parent company||Unitarian Universalist Association|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Distribution||Penguin Random House Publisher Services (worldwide)|
Publishers Group UK (UK)
|Key people||Helene Atwan, director|
Beacon Press is an American non-profit book publisher. Founded in 1854 by the American Unitarian Association, it is currently a department of the Unitarian Universalist Association. It is known for publishing authors such as James Baldwin and Viktor Frankl, as well as The Pentagon Papers.
The history of Beacon Press actually begins in 1825, the year the American Unitarian Association (AUA) was formed. This liberal religious movement had the enlightened notion to publish and distribute books and tracts that would spread the word of their beliefs not only about theology but also about society and justice.
The Early Years: 1854-1900
In the Press of the American Unitarian Association (as Beacon was called then) purchased and published works that were largely religious in nature and "conservative Unitarian" in viewpoint (far more progressive, nonetheless, than many other denominations). The authors were often Unitarian ministers--dead or alive, American or British, mostly Caucasian, and far more male than female. Many of the books were collections of sermons, lectures, and letters, balanced by volumes of devotion, hymns, and morally uplifting tales.
New Century, New Mission: 1900-1945
In the early 1900's Samuel Eliot broadened the mission of the press by publishing books dealing with ethical, sociological, philanthropic, and similar subjects, as well as those of a more strictly religious character. . . . Although books of marked theology and religious note continued to have a predominant place in Association publication, the wide interest in all subjects relating to social and moral betterment were included and the evergrowing topics of war and peace and arbitration, or national amity and racial brotherhood were represented
The Modern Era: 1945-
Under director Gobin Stair (1962-75), new authors included James Baldwin, Kenneth Clark, André Gorz, Herbert Marcuse, Jürgen Habermas, Howard Zinn, Ben Bagdikian, Mary Daly, and Jean Baker Miller. Wendy Strothman became Beacon's director in 1983; she set up the organization's first advisory board, a group of scholars and publishing professionals who advised on book choices and direction. She turned a budget deficit into a surplus. In 1995, her last year at Beacon, Strothman summarized the Press's mission: "We at Beacon publish the books we choose because they share a moral vision and a sense that greater understanding can influence the course of events. They are books we believe in." Strothman was replaced by Helene Atwan in 1995.
In 1971, it published the "Senator Gravel edition" of The Pentagon Papers for the first time in book form, when no other publisher was willing to risk publishing such controversial material. Robert West, then-president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, approved the decision to publish The Pentagon Papers, which West claims resulted in two-and-a-half years of harassment and intimidation by the Nixon administration. In Gravel v. United States, the Supreme Court decided that the Constitution's "Speech or Debate Clause" protected Gravel and some acts of his aide, but not Beacon Press.
Beacon Press seeks to publish works that "affirm and promote" several principles:
the inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity and compassion in human relations; acceptance of one another; a free and responsible search for truth and meaning; the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process in society; the goal of the world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; respect for the interdependent web of all existence; and the importance of literature and the arts in democratic life.
|American Freedom and Catholic Power||Paul Blanshard||1948, 1958|
|The Transsexual Empire||Janice Raymond||1979|
|Notes of a Native Son||James Baldwin||1984|
|Toward a New Psychology of Women||Jean Baker Miller||1987|
|One-Dimensional Man||Herbert Marcuse||1991|
|Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun||Geoffrey Canada||1995|
|The Power of Their Ideas||Deborah Meier||1995|
|Race Matters||Cornel West||2001|
|New and Selected Poems: Volume One, Thirst||Mary Oliver||2005, 2007|
|Resurrecting Empire||Rashid Khalidi||2005|
|Man's Search for Meaning||Viktor Frankl||2006|
|Without a Map||Meredith Hall||2007|
|All Souls: A Family Story from Southie||Michael Patrick MacDonald||2007|
|The Court and the Cross||Frederick Lane||2008|
|White Fragility||Robin DiAngelo||2018|
|Superior: The Return of Race Science||Angela Saini||2019|
In 2009, Beacon Press announced a new partnership with the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. for a new publishing program, "The King Legacy." As part of the program, Beacon is printing new editions of previously published King titles and compiling Dr. King's writings, sermons, orations, lectures, and prayers into entirely new editions, including new introductions by leading scholars.
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