Black Arts Movement

To conclude Black History Month, this week’s review details the Black Arts Movement, which covers everything from artists, major movement themes, and its role in the Black Power Movement

Encyclopedia of the Black Arts Movement

Mitchell, Verner D. ed. by Verner D. Mitchell and Cynthia Davis Rowman & Littlefield, 2019
382p bibl index, 9781538101452 $125.00, 9781538101469 $118.50

The Black Arts Movement (BAM) of the 1960s and early 1970s was the artistic and aesthetic side of the Black Power Movement. BAM was perhaps more global in scale and remains a subject of scholarly and intellectual interest to this day. Mitchell (Univ. of Memphis) and Davis (San Jacinto College), both professors of English and accomplished specialists in African American literature, have compiled an incisive, captivating history of this radical political and social movement, which raised race consciousness through art and was a unique 20th-century artistic movement. Arranged alphabetically, entries cover political and social leaders, artists, authors, works, and major themes of the movement; this compendium is an excellent introduction to and summary of BAM. Topics such as black women writers, marginalization, sexual identity, voodoo aesthetics, student nonviolence, poetry on Emmett Till, and the black aesthetic are cogent and well summarized. Influential longer works merit attention, but significant short stories and poems—for example, James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” and Amiri Baraka’s “Monday in B-Flat”—also have their own entries. Each entry includes suggestions for further reading. The encyclopedia includes a brief foreword and preface, a time line, and a helpful index.

Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers.
Reviewer: M. P. Tosko, University of Akron
Subject: Reference – Humanities
Choice Issue: Nov 2019