The Black Arts Movement, united
ethics and aesthetics holding the black artist to a new moral and cultural
responsibility for their art. Distinctively black art became a tool by which
the black community could reclaim and harvest their African/Black heritage. The
creation of black art fought against the absorption of their culture into the
white-biased society in which they lived in for centuries. The Black Arts Movement used its
literature, music and drama to speak politically and directly to the community.

The Black Arts Movement
cultivated a manner of expression which gave full voice to its feeling of
desperate, violent rebellion and independence. The publication and adoption of
the black arts is mainly due to the creation of nationally distributed magazines.

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These magazines were imperative, because most literary publications of the time
rejected works of the black arts. Magazines such as Freedom ways and Liberator
offered publishing opportunities for young black artists.

These distributions paved the way for
more major critical journals devoted to black Arts such as the Black Dialogue
and the Journal of Black Poetry founded by Joe Goncalves. The development of independent presses,
such as Third World Press, freed black artists from the control of white-mainstream
publishers, that held many artists back in the past. The Movement worked to
liberate the black community by removing the boundaries of their expression. The
Black art movement was integrally linked to the concept of Black Aesthetics. Neal
explains in “The Black Arts Movement” how the reinforcement of racial hierarchy
through the advertisement of white aesthetic will compromise black culture. Racial
hierarchies are reinforced through the constant reminders of a dominant, primary,
white community. Neal explains in his essay that “there are in fact and in
spirit two Americas one black, one white” (Neal). The danger of not counteracting
the white aesthetics, is that it has the ability to trump the need for a black
aesthetic. The Black Aesthetic is the appreciation of the ideologies and perspectives
of art that focuses on Blackness and the Black culture. Using Black Aesthetic was to
advance the liberation of the black people by encouraging and giving them pride
in their love, struggles, beauty and history. “The motive behind the Black aesthetic is the
destruction of the white thing, the destruction of white ideas, and white ways
of looking at the world.” (Neal). Essentially, if culture, beauty and art are
standardized by a white aesthetic, then black culture, beauty and art will be
viewed as known existent and belittled, which reinforces a racial hierarchy.

The concept of the Black Aesthetic
was very important to the African American community, and accepting itself as
Black. Black Aesthetics was a major key to breaking mental chains of past
oppression. For once in U.S. history, during the 60s and 70s white people were
confronted and had to in some ways deal with their racial disparities, and on
the other hand black people were empowering each other. During the 1960s and 1970s
Black meant not only beautiful, but also was a sense of power and pride in the
legacy of African American achievement. One of both Black Art Movement and The
Black Power Movement’s goal was increasing black people’s level of
consciousness. One of the results, was black people starting to call themselves
Black instead of Negro, it was a way of breaking free and taking control of
what people call them. Another result was men and women wearing their hair
Natural, such as the Afro; some people also wore African Garments, African
pendants and other jewelry. Many of the black activists would change their
given or slave name and take on and African, or Arab name instead, which represented
their rejection of the forced upon white society and embracement of their
African identity.  The self-identification
with blackness spread throughout the entire African Diaspora, and became an active
participation in the socio-political empowerment of the black community.

While some say that The Civil Rights
were vastly different from The Black Arts movement and The Black Power Movement,
but in many ways, were influenced by Malcolm X; and can also be viewed as an extension
from the previous Civil Rights Movement. The
Black Power Movement was a vitally important point in history, because it
refers to a period in the 1960s when African-Americans, or blacks, changed
their views about the manner by which they should achieve economic power,
political power, and civil rights. The Black Power Movement began during a
period when blacks legally considered to be equal to all other citizens of the
United States, although in reality of life that was constantly proven to be otherwise.

White society still could not come to terms with seeing black people as having
as much worth and human value as whites. Black Power means the complete freedom
of black people from white oppression by whatever means black people deem
necessary. The term “Black Power” was first popularized by Stokely Carmichael
also known as Kwame Ture in 1966, during a SNCC (Student Nonviolent
Coordination committee) Rally.


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