The Black Arts Movement (BAM) encompassed a group of artists, musicians, novelists, and playwrights whose work combined innovative approaches to literature, film, music, visual arts, and theatre. With a heightened consciousness of black agency and autonomy—along with the radical politics of the civil rights movement, the Black Muslims, and the Black Panthers—these figures represented a collective effort to defy the status quo of American life and culture. Between the late 1950s and the end of the 1970s, the movement produced some of America’s most original and controversial artists and intellectuals.
In Encyclopedia of the Blacks Arts Movement, Verner D. Mitchell and Cynthia Davis have collected essays on the key figures of the movement, including Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Larry Neal, Sun Ra, Sonia Sanchez, Ntozake Shange, and Archie Shepp. Additional entries focus on Black Theatre magazine, the Negro Ensemble Company, lesser known individuals—including Kathleen Collins, Tom Dent, Bill Gunn, June Jordan, and Barbara Ann Teer—and groups, such as AfriCOBRA and the New York Umbra Poetry Workshop.
The Black Arts Movement represented the most prolific expression of African American literature since the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Featuring essays by contemporary scholars and rare photographs of BAM artists, Encyclopedia of the Blacks Arts Movement is an essential reference for students and scholars of twentieth-century American literature and African American cultural studies.