Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ebony magazine & Black Arts Poetry

At some point during my research for my book The Black Arts Enterprise, I came across the August 1969 issue of Ebony magazine's special issue on "The Black Revolution." I was intrigued that artists figured so prominently in the conception of revolution.

There was an article "Black Art and Black Liberation" by Larry Neal about poetry and culture. The table of contents notes that Neal "discusses cultural revolution in Black America." A profile of "Ameer (LeRoi Jones) Baraka" by David Llorens noted that the "Poet is hard at work building Black Nation," and poet A. B. Spellman had a piece about jazz, "Revolution in Sound" with the tag "Black geniuses create a new music in Western World."

[Related content: 30 Days of Black Arts Poetry

Looking back, that special issue of Ebony and the coverage that the magazine provided in other issues for a few other artists, including Nikki Giovanni and Haki Madhubuti, were extraordinary and helps explain how black poets maintained a stronger ore more visible presence in black popular culture at the time.   

These days, I doubt or at least hope the editors would not produce a full issue on cultural revolution and exclude black women as writers and focal points. But then, even today, publications, even black publications, often too narrowly conceive of revolutionary acts in masculine terms. 

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