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FURTHER READING
Explore Black Heritage
A Brief Guide to Jazz Poetry
A Brief Guide to Negritude
A Brief Guide to Slam Poetry
A Brief Guide to the Harlem Renaissance
Double-Bind: Three Women of the Harlem Renaissance
by Anthony Walton
Great Anthology: The Vintage Book of African American Poetry
Groundbreaking Book: A Ballad of Remembrance by Robert Hayden (1962)
Groundbreaking Book: The Bean Eaters by Gwendolyn Brooks (1960)
Groundbreaking Book: The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes (1926)
Masters and Master Works: On Black Male Poetics
by Afaa M. Weaver
O Black and Unknown Bards
by James Weldon Johnson
Slim Greer in Hell
by Sterling A. Brown
The Bond of Living Things: Poems of Ancestry
by Toi Derricotte
Theme for English B
by Langston Hughes
Walking Tour: Langston Hughes’s Harlem of 1926
Related Prose
Great Anthology: The Vintage Book of African American Poetry
A Brief Guide to Jazz Poetry
Amiri Baraka & New York Art Quartet: Black Dada Nihilismus
Quincy Troupe & Miles Davis: Fate in a Fish Joint
Related Authors
Amiri Baraka
Amiri Baraka
Amiri Baraka was born Everett LeRoi Jones in Newark, New Jersey, on...
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Etheridge Knight
Etheridge Knight
Born in 1931, Etheridge Knight was a prominent member of the Black Arts movement...
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Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1917 and raised in...
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Haki Madhubuti
Born Donald Luther Lee in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1942, Haki Madhubuti...
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A Brief Guide to the Black Arts Movement

 

"Sometimes referred to as 'the artistic sister of the Black Power Movement,' the Black Arts Movement stands as the single most controversial moment in the history of African-American literature--possibly in American literature as a whole. Although it fundamentally changed American attitudes both toward the function and meaning of literature as well as the place of ethnic literature in English departments, African-American scholars as prominent as Henry Louis Gates, Jr., have deemed it the 'shortest and least successful' movement in African American cultural history." --"Black Creativity: On the Cutting Edge," Time (Oct. 10, 1994)

With roots in the Civil Rights Movement, Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, and the Black Power Movement, Black Arts is usually dated from approximately 1960 to 1970. African American artists within the movement sought to create politically engaged work that explored the African American cultural and historical experience.

One of the most important figures in the Black Arts Movement is Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones). Following the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) made a symbolic move from Manhattan's Lower East Side to Harlem, where he founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School. According to the Norton Anthology of African American Literature, "No one was more competent in [the] combination of the experimental and the vernacular than Amiri Baraka, whose volume Black Magic Poetry 1961-1967 (1969) is one of the finest products of the African American creative energies of the 1960s."

Sometimes criticized as misogynist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and racially exclusive, the Black Arts movement is also credited with motivating a new generation of poets, writers and artists. In recent years, however, many other writers--Native Americans, Latinos/as, gays and lesbians, and younger generations of African Americans, for instance--have acknowledged their debt to the Black Arts movement.

Related works include "On Black Art" by Maulana Ron Karenga and "The Revolutionary Theatre" by Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones). For more information, consult The Oxford Companion to African American Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996), Furious Flower: African American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present (University of Virginia Press, 2004) and Modern American Poetry's Black Arts resources.

Poets in the Black Arts Movement inlude: Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ed Bullins, Eldridge Ceaver, Jayne Cortez, Harold Cruse, Mari Evans, Hoyt Fuller, Nikki Giovanni, Lorraine Hansberry, Gil-Scott Heron, Maulana Ron Karenga, Etheridge Knight, Adrienne Kennedy, Haki R. Madhubuti, Larry Neal, Ishmael Reed, Sonia Sanchez, Ntozake Shange, Quincy Troupe, and John Alfred Williams.


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