New Day in Babylon: The Black Power Movement and American Culture, 1965-1975

William L. Van Deburg, Author
William L. Van Deburg, Author University of Chicago Press $48 (388p) ISBN 978-0-226-84714-6
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
Paperback - 388 pages - 978-0-226-84715-3
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To Van Deburg, the Black Power movement was not solely a political phenomenon that yielded minuscule gains for African Americans. It was ``essentially cultural,'' a ``collective thrust . . . toward racial pride, strength, and self-definition.'' Along with revolutionaries like the Black Panthers, community control activists and separatists, the movement included cultural nationalists such as Amiri Baraka (who later became a Marxist) and Maulana Ron Karenga. In fostering self-actualization, Black Power, in Van Deburg's telling, employed soul music, urban folktales, paintings, prison writings and comedy. Black novelists, playwrights and poets, rejecting definitions of aesthetic beauty they claimed were specific to whites, crafted ``alternative formulations that were far more relevant to black people,'' contends the author, a professor of Afro-American studies at the University of Wisconsin. This vigorous, impassioned study sifts through the cultural legacy of the Black Power movement for a new generation seeking racial equality and identity. Photos. (Oct.)
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