Monday, September 28, 2015

The many appearances of Amiri Baraka in Negro Digest/Black World

A sample of covers featuring Amiri Baraka

It perhaps comes as no surprise that Amiri Baraka appeared more frequently than any other poet on the cover of Negro Digest/Black World. He's on the November 1970 cover. There he is, along with Barbara Ann Teer, Woodie King, Jr., and others, on the cover of the annual theater issue in April 1970. He's on the January 1969 cover. And there he is on the  cover of the April 1967 issue. He's on the cover of the April 1966 issue.

Negro Digest/Black World did more than simply provide Baraka with a platform. Instead, the publication was integral to helping establish his status as one of the most visible black artists of the 1960s and 1970s. In addition to presenting images of him on the cover, the magazine ran several images of Baraka inside the issue. Baraka's poems and essays appeared regularly in the magazine, and he was a point of reference in numerous issues.

I'm reluctant to refer to people as the "father" and "mother" of a movement. Besides, Baraka often acknowledged that he collaborated with a host of artists and organizers, including Larry Neal, Sonia Sanchez, and Askia Toure to formulate Black Arts in Harlem. What stands out, though, when covering the discourse on African American literary and cultural arts in the pages of Negro Digest/Black World is just how pervasive the writings, name(s), and images of Baraka were.

In retrospect, one of the many notable contributions of the periodical was what it did to produce or amplify Amiri Baraka as this multi-talented and revered black cultural figure.  

Blogging about Black World magazine

No comments: