Black Arts Movement

Amiri Baraka (center) and Yusef Iman (second from left) with musicians and actors of the black arts movement, Spirit House, Newark, New Jersey, 1966

“The Black Arts Movement (or BAM) was an African American-led art movement, active during the 1960s and 1970s. Through activism and art, BAM created new cultural institutions and conveyed a message of black pride. Famously referred to as the ‘aesthetic and spiritual sister of Black Power,’ BAM applied these same political ideas to art and literature. The movement resisted traditional Western influences and found new ways to present the black experience. The poet and playwright Amiri Baraka is widely recognized as the founder of BAM. … African Americans had always made valuable artistic contributions to American culture. However, due to brutalities of slavery and the systemic racism of Jim Crow, these contributions often went unrecognised. Despite continued oppression, African American artists continued to create literature and art that would reflect their experiences. A high-point for these artists was the Harlem Renaissance—a literary era which spotlighted black people. … The beginnings of the Black Arts Movement may be traced to 1965, when Amiri Baraka, at that time still known as Leroi Jones, moved uptown to establish the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School (BARTS) following the assassination of Malcolm X. Rooted in the Nation of Islam, the Black Power movement and the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Arts Movement grew out of a changing political and cultural climate in which Black artists attempted to create politically engaged work that explored the African American cultural and historical experience. Black artists and intellectuals such as Baraka made it their project to reject older political, cultural, and artistic traditions. Although the success of sit-ins and public demonstrations of the Black student movement in the 1960s may have ‘inspired black intellectuals, artists, and political activists to form politicized cultural groups,’ many Black Arts activists rejected the non-militant integrational ideologies of the Civil Rights Movement and instead favored those of the Black Liberation Struggle, which emphasized ‘self-determination through self-reliance and Black control of significant businesses, organization, agencies, and institutions.’  The importance that the movement placed on Black autonomy is apparent through the creation of institutions such as the Black Arts Repertoire Theatre School (BARTS), created in the spring of 1964 by Baraka and other Black artists. …”
The History of the Black Arts Movement (Video)
The Black Arts Movement (1965-1975)
NYPL – On Black Aesthetics: The Black Arts Movement
Black Arts Movement
YouTube: Black Arts Movement

Nikki Giovanni

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This entry was posted in Black Power, Books, Civil Rights Mov., Dick Gregory, Eldridge Cleaver, Huey P. Newton, James Baldwin, Jazz, Malcolm X, MLKJr., Music, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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