Colorlines was founded in 1998. It was originally a print publication published jointly by the Applied Research Center, a public policy institute that focused on race, and the Center for Third World Organizing, a training center for community organizers of color. Bob Wing was the founding editor of Colorlines.
In 2010, Colorlines became an online magazine of the Applied Research Center, which became Race Forward. Articles are primarily composed of essays, investigative reports, think pieces, opinion columns, cultural criticism, fiction, and humor pieces. Within a year of launching as a daily, digital publication, Colorlines was named a Webby Award Honoree for Political Blogs.