Behold the Land: The Black Arts Movement in the South

James Smethurst. Univ. of North Carolina, $29.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-4696-6304-3
Smethurst (Brick City Vanguard), a professor of African American studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, delivers an in-depth account of the cultural and political life of Black artists and activists in the South from the 1960s to the ’80s. Delving into the emergence and institutionalization of the Black Arts movement in cities such as Atlanta, New Orleans, and Memphis, Smethurst profiles writers and artists including Amiri Baraka, Kalamu ya Salaam, Ebon Dooley, and Toni Cade Bambara, who drew inspiration from the bus boycotts and student sit-ins of the ’60s, the rise of Black Power, and anticolonialist uprisings in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Smethurst details the creation of institution spaces for Black theater, Black arts, and Black literature at universities across the South, and argues that these initiatives showed greater continuity of community support than peer institutions in the North. He also makes a persuasive case that the Black Arts movement gave rise to high-profile cultural events such as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and laid the groundwork for more recent organized efforts for African American self-expression and community empowerment. Scholars of African American literature and history will relish the granular look this influential yet often overlooked artistic movement. (June)
Reviewed on : 04/19/2021
Release date: 06/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-1-4696-6303-6
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