Black Arts Movement

September 21, 2010


The Black Arts Movement was a period of literary and artistic growth among African Americans during the 1960's and into the early 1970's. Seen as the artistic component of the Black Power Movement, it featured many black writers and artists who voiced the cultural and political values of African American identity. These values, including black separatism and self-determination, were reflected in the artistic expression of the period, often referred to as the "Black aesthetic." Malcolm X, leader and minister for the Black Power Movement and the Nation of Islam, respectively, was assassinated in February 1965, and his death was the catalyst for the start of BAM.

What is BAM's history?

What is the "black aesthetic" and who are the writers?

How did BAM effect American society and culture?


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2 Responses

  1. I found this really informative and loved all of the videos! Thanks!

    I was wondering, since you describe one of the features as a call and response, if you knew how related to liturgical worship this was? All I could think about were traditional black churches in the south and the call and response orientation of their services, even to this day.

  2. Thanks for all the videos and links. Very enjoyable. Although, you touched on theater briefly, I would also like to note here that although this course focuses on literature, the Black Arts Movement, itself, encompassed all forms of art; film, theater, dance, music, sculpture, painting, murals and street art. It was successful because the black community supported the artists and it’s end was due in large part to absorption of it’s art into the mainstream. The Black Arts Movement was a victim, first, of its own popularity, followed closely by and tied in with consummerism and capitolism. The small black presses and production companies lost their biggest earning artists to the larger mainstream corporations, which offered more money and stability. However, the tradition lives on in both large and smaller minority owned businesses which continue to promote black artists.

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