Black Arts Revival

February 1, 1974

Report Outline
Surge of Negritude in American Arts
Exploration of Afro-American Past
Currents in Blacks Arts in the 1970s

Surge of Negritude in American Arts

Black Self-Assertion in Many Cultural Forums

The black american's drive to assert his presence as a social and political force has a vital counterpart in the arts. The evidence of this is found in an outpouring of creative activity in painting, graphics, sculpture, poetry, music, drama, dance, and handcrafts. Even more than during the so-called Negro Renaissance of the 1920s, America's black people are being drawn to vigorous self-expression in the visual, performing and literary arts. And there's a new element today—a highly vocal effort by militant spokesmen for black culture to bend this arts revival to the needs of the black revolution.

This new black art movement assumes many individualized forms and ranges in tone from mass-appeal entertainment and polemic to refined and subtle modes of esthetic expression. Participants in the movement include not only the unusually gifted and the successful professional but countless amateurs, students, adult beginners, children, and personnel involved in cultural activities of community centers. The black scene in the arts abounds with workshops, festivals, street shows, campus and neighborhood galleries and stages. A truly black theater and film industry have emerged, and blacks are moving as rarely before into positions as managers, promoters, directors, and teachers of their own art and drama enterprises. Most important, the black artist is building up a broadening base of black support, distinct from the patronage of established, white-dominated agencies.

The art of the Negro in America has always been a mirror of the conditions of his life and his aspirations for something better. Art has served him not only in the expected ways, as a response to an esthetic impulse, but as an outlet for frustration, a shield against the pain of poverty and humiliation, a protest against oppression, and as a push toward fuller self-expression in a racially restrictive society. His art today reflects a new stage in self-awareness. For some it constitutes a weapon in the struggle against dominance and exploitation by white society.

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Arts and Humanities