The Emancipator makes its welcome, long-anticipated debut

The Emancipator, long in the making, has gotten past the soft-launch stage and made its formal debut this week. Aimed at covering the Black experience from an antiracist point of view, the site is vibrant and colorful. It looks great on mobile, and features videos (including one by Black activist and filmmaker Bree Newsome Bass, above) and comics alongside serious essays and reported pieces.

The Emancipator is a joint venture of The Boston Globe’s opinion operation and the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University. Northeastern journalism students are involved as well. There’s no paywall.

The point of the project is to provide national coverage of the country’s reckoning with systemic racism. Starting with the police murder of George Floyd and the police killing of Breonna Taylor in 2020, race has moved to the center of the national conversation in a way that it had not since the 1960s. Tragically, the moment we’re in right now feels more like the backlash than it does forward progress. The introduction puts it this way:

Just as 19th-century antislavery publications reframed and amplified the quest for abolition, The Emancipator centers critical voices, debates, and evidence-based opinion to reframe the national conversation on racial equity and hasten a more racially just society.

We put journalists, scholars, and community members into conversation, showcasing missing and underamplified voices — past and present — and demonstrating how they reveal the way forward.

The founders are former Globe editorial page editor Bina Venkataramin and BU’s Ibram X. Kendi, the author of “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” winner of the National Book Award. The co-editors are Deborah D. Douglas and Amber Payne. Among the more recognizable bylines is that of Globe columnist Kimberly Atkins Stohr, and the star-studded advisory board includes the ubiquitous Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the 1619 Project.

One interesting style note: News organizations have been reaching different conclusions during the past several years over whether they should uppercase “Black.” The Emancipator is going with uppercase “Black” and “White,” which, for what it’s worth, is what The Washington Post is doing as well. The Globe, The New York Times and The Associated Press have all opted for uppercase “Black” and lowercase “white.”

A year ago, when The Emancipator was announced, there were some hard feelings at The Bay State Banner, which has been covering the Black community in Greater Boston since 1965. (Northeastern students also contribute to the Banner through The Scope, our digital social-justice publication.) I don’t really see a conflict, though. The Banner continues to do a great job of covering local issues, while The Emancipator is national in scope and opinion-based. There’s room for both — and for more. Banner founder Melvin Miller, I should note, will receive a long-overdue Yankee Quill Award this Friday.

The Emancipator is an important project and a welcome new voice. I’ve signed up for “Unbound,” the site’s newsletter, and I’m interested to see how the project develops.

Amber Payne of BET Digital named co-editor of The Emancipator

The Boston Globe has named an editor-in-chief for The Emancipator, the much-anticipated racial-justice website it is launching in collaboration with Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research.

Amber Payne, a veteran journalist who recently finished a Nieman fellowship at Harvard, will spend the next several months “putting together an editorial plan and team for The Emancipator and launching it alongside her counterpart at BU’s Center for Antiracist Research,” according to an email to the Globe staff from editorial-page editor Bina Venkataraman, co-founder of The Emancipator.

The BU editor-in-chief has not been named yet, Venkataraman added. The other co-founder is Ibram X. Kendi, who directs the BU antiracism center.

What follows is Venkataraman’s full email (except for some personal information that I deleted), which I obtained from a trusted source:

Dear all,

It’s my pleasure to announce that Amber Payne joins the Globe today as the Editor in Chief of The Emancipator. Amber is an extraordinary person whose career in journalism has spanned broadcast, print, and digital.

Until recently, Amber was an executive producer at BET Digital, where she oversaw daily editorial and long form video content for BET.com. Previously, she served as executive producer of Teen Vogue and them., a vertical focused on LGBTQ+ stories. Payne also founded and launched NBCNews.com’s NBCBLK, a media vertical on Black identity, and worked on breaking news and features as an award-winning producer for “NBC Nightly News.” Her repertoire is vast and varied; she’s edited a multimedia story on an Alabama landfill that became a civil rights battleground, produced the feature-length documentary “Harlem Rising,” and made an engaging interactive on the sexist, racist history of the high school prom. She has covered stories throughout the U.S., Ecuador, and in parts of West and South Africa, including Nelson Mandela’s funeral, the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the Vancouver Olympics, and Hurricane Katrina recovery.

Amber is fresh out of the Nieman fellowship where she has spent the past year deeply studying the history and present of race in America, examining how people from marginalized communities can share stories in ways that resonate across races, faiths, and cultures….

Over the coming months, Amber will be putting together an editorial plan and team for The Emancipator and launching it alongside her counterpart at BU’s Center for Antiracist Research (who is still to be named). She’s also eager to speak with many of you about your ideas for The Emancipator, to conspire with various teams at BGMP, and to find ways to showcase Globe journalists and their work through its channels.

Talking to Amber is fascinating and fun, and once you meet her, I think you’ll find that she’s just the person to take the helm of this historic and forward-looking publication at this moment.  Please give her a warm welcome to the Globe and join me in cheering her on!

(You can follow her on Twitter @amberwaves)

Bina