5 September 2012
Black Arts Movement of the 1960s
The history of BAM, the types of entertainment, and their effects on society has the upmost impact on history today. Due to it being the only American literary movement to advance “social engagement” as sin qua non of its aesthetic. The movement broke from the immediate past of protest and petition (civil rights) literature and dashed forward toward an alternative that initially seemed unthinkable and unobtainable: Black Power.
One of the most important figures in the Black Arts movement is Amiri Baraka (formerly Leroi Jones). Following the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka) made a symbolic move from Manhattan’s Lower East Side to Harlem, where he founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/ School. According to the “ Norton Anthology of African American Literature,’’ no one was more competent in the combination of the experimental and the vernacular than Amiri Baraka, whose volume Black Magic Poetry 1961- 1967(1969) is one of the first products of the African American creative energies of the 1960s. Umbra, which produced Umbra Magazine, was the first post-civil rights Black literary group to make an impact as radical in the sense of establishing their own voice distinct from, and sometimes at odds with, the prevailing white literary establishment. The attempt to merge a Black-oriented activist thrust with a primarily artistic orientation produced a classic split in Umbra between those who wanted to be activists and those who thought of themselves as primarily writers, though to some extent all members shared both views. Black writers have always had to face the issue of whether their work was primarily political or aesthetic. Black Arts Movement influenced the world of literature, portraying different ethnic voices. Before the movement, the literary canon lacked diversity, and the ability to express ideas from the point of view of...