Sunday, September 2, 2012
A little, far-reaching magazine: Black World
Few black arts artifacts intrigued me like the issues Negro Digest / Black World magazine that I encountered many years ago. I had read about the magazine here and there early in my undergraduate career, bu it was not until my junior year while I was on an exchange program at New York University that I saw the actual magazine as my friend Donald Garcia, a book collector, had several issues of the periodical in his private collection.
The many different writers who contributed to the publication gave me a sense of the rich diversity and active energy that comprised the black arts era. In addition, the photographs in the publication made it possible for me to see photographic images of several different writers that I had been reading. Negro Digest / Black World allowed me to put faces with the names. The many striking covers as well as the images throughout the issues appealed to my sense as a visual learning and perhaps assisted in shaping my interest in the materiality of African American literature long before I could define that interest.
The publication provides an extensive literary and visual history of African American artistic activity as well as displays of a wide range of black aesthetics. African art and literary and historical figures regularly appeared on the covers of the publication. Clovis E. Semmes's Roots of Afrocentric Thought: A Reference Guide to Negro Digest/Black World, 1961-1976 (1998) provides an invaluable index for the publication.
I devoted one chapter of my book The Black Arts Enterprise to Negro Digest / Black World concentrating on the ways the periodical showcased poetry. I felt like I could have easily written an entire book on the little, far-reaching magazine and its presentation of poets, poems, and a variety of issues related to literary activity.
Related: 30 Days of Black Arts Artifacts