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Black Arts Movement

A cultural movement conceived of and promoted by Amiri Baraka in the mid-1960s. Its constellation of writers, performers, and artists included Nikki Giovanni, Jay Wright, Larry Neal, and Sonia Sanchez. “We want a black poem. And / a Black World. / Let the world be a Black Poem,” writes Baraka (then LeRoi Jones) in his poem “Black Art,” which served as a de facto manifesto for the movement. Its practitioners were energized by a desire to confront white power structures and assert an African American cultural identity. Its aims were community-minded as well as artistic; during its heyday, hundreds of Afrocentric repertory theater companies, public art projects, and publishing ventures were organized throughout the United States.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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