The Black Arts Movement
"On the relationship between the Black Power and Black Arts movements, Larry Neal writes, “Black Art is the aesthetic and spiritual sister of the Black Power concept. … The Black Arts and the Black Power concept both related broadly to the Afro-American’s desire for self-determination and nationhood.” The artists within the Black Arts movement sought to create politically engaged work that explored the African American cultural and historical experience and transformed the way African Americans were portrayed in literature and the arts."
This topical collection includes background information as well as examples of poetry and art from the Black Arts Movement. Two excerpts from essays are also included. There are also some examples of works from artists who rejected the premise of the Black Arts Movement.
Students could use this collection as a starting point for further research or to create an illustrated timeline of the movement. Works could be analyzed for their reflection or rejection of themes like: black nationalism, self-determination, "the black is beautiful" movement, and liberation. Students could also evaluate the merits of the arguments for and against a "black arts movement" as articulated by Karenga and Saunders in the text excerpts.
This is a work-in-progress based on the digitized materials within the Smithsonian Learning Lab's collection--it is not meant to be wholly definitive or authoritative.