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The Black Arts Movement

Black Arts Movement (1965-1975)

The Black Arts Movement was a Black nationalism movement that focused on music, literature, drama, and the visual arts made up of Black artists and intellectuals. This was the cultural section of the Black Power movement, in that its participants shared many of the ideologies of Black self-determination, political beliefs, and African American culture.

The Black Arts Movement started in 1965 when poet Amiri Baraka [LeRoi Jones] established the Black Arts Repertory Theater in Harlem, New York, as a place for artistic expression. Artists associated with this movement include Audre Lorde, Ntozake Shange, James Baldwin, Gil Scott-Heron, and Thelonious Monk. Records at the National Archives related to the Black Arts Movement primarily focus on individual artists and their interaction with various Federal agencies.

from the National Archives and Records Administration


schomberg center research guideThe New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has put together an excellent guide to resources on the history of the Black Power movement, complementing their 2017 exhibition: Black Power! 50. See the guide, along with the exhibition catalog, and two digital exhibitions: Black Power! The Movement, The Legacy and Ready for the Revolution: Education, Arts and Aesthetics of the Black Power Movement


Amiri Baraka: A Conversation with Maya Angelou (25 mins, 1993)

Maya Angelou interviews poet, playwright, and political activist Amiri Baraka, formerly known as Leroi Jones. Stressing the use of concrete images of time, place, and social condition in his work, Baraka discusses the use of literature as a catalyst for political change. Reading from his poem "Funk Lore," Baraka explains how he uses jazz and blues rhythms to create metric "melody" within his poems.


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