An introduction to the revolutionary black poets of the ’60s and ’70s


The Black Voices – On The Street In Watts (1969)

“In the struggle for racial equality in the US, the mid 1960s were a turning point. The civil rights era, 1955 – 65, had produced legislation against segregation, but everyday and institutional racism continued to blight African American life, as did economic deprivation. … The late 1960s and 1970s also produced an unprecedented amount of powerful, politically-driven poetry. Much of this revolutionary verse was written for live performance and this, together with the poets’ near-universal use of instrumental accompaniment, sometimes by a single conga drum, sometimes by a larger group, meant their work transferred well to disc. The demotic language the poets favoured also helped them reach a broader audience than poetry traditionally enjoyed. On the timeline of emancipatory expression, the revolutionary poets and their musicians are the precursors of hip hop and modern rap. … Langston Hughes – The Dream Keeper (1955). African American cultural resistance to oppression began with the blues. The literary fightback took off with the Harlem Renaissance which invigorated black artistic expression during the 1920s. Langston Hughes (1902 – 67) was prominent in the movement. While not overtly revolutionary – although it could be said that calling a collection of verse The Glory Of Negro History was revolutionary in itself – Hughes helped light the fuse for the poets who emerged four decades later. … New York Art Quartet & Imamu Amiri Baraka – New York Art Quartet & Imamu Amiri Baraka (1965). Fast-forward from The Dream Keeper through the murders of civil rights activists in Mississippi during the late 1950s, and a new wave of African American poets began to emerge, sounding a more impatient note than had the poets of Hughes’ generation. Amiri Baraka, whose influential cultural-history Blues People was published in 1963 (under his birth name, Leroi Jones), was among the first. This mainly-instrumental album, co-led by free-jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd, and released during the same year as the Watts uprising and the assassination of Malcolm X, includes a 12-minute track featuring Baraka reading his early tour de force, ‘Black Dada Nihilismus.’ …”
The Vinyl Factory (Video)
Poetry Foundation: An Introduction to the Black Arts Movement
LA Times: How the black radical female artists of the ‘60s and ‘70s made art that speaks to today’s politics


Gil Scott-Heron – Small Talk At 125th & Lenox (1970)

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Black Power, Civil Rights Mov., Jazz, Malcolm X, Music, Poetry and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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