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Poetry of the Black Arts Movement

The Black Arts Movement (BAM) was a period of growth in the arts by African-Americans in the 1960s and 70s. Poetry saw tremendous growth during this period, and this guide is dedicated to compiling information about the poets of BAM and their works.

Timeline of the Black Arts Movement

This timeline is meant to chronicle and provide more information for major events and poetry publications of the Black Art Movement.

1965

  • On February 21, 1965, Black Nationalist and Civil Rights leader Malcolm X is assassinated in Harlem. Poet Larry Neal witnesses the assassination. 
  • LeRoi Jones, who later changes his name to Amiri Baraka, moves to Harlem and founds the Black Arts Repertory Theatre. This act is often seen as the starting point of the Black Arts Movement.
  • "The Revolutionary Theatre," a Black Arts manifesto by LeRoi Jones is published in the July issue of the Liberator.
  • Dudley Randall is founded Broadside Press in Detroit, Michigan. Broadside Press was a pioneering publisher of many leading African-American writers.
  • A tribute poem for Malcolm X, "A Poem for Black Hearts" by LeRoi Jones, is published in Negro Digest.
  • "Black Art," a poem by LeRoi Jones, is first released. Baraka read the poem on Sonny Murray's album, Sonny's Time Now.

1966

  • A fourth published version of Robert Hayden's "Middle Passage" appears in his Selected Poems.
  • LeRoi Jones's "Black Art" is published in print in the January issue of the Liberator.
  • John Oliver Killens organizes the First Black Writers Conference at Fisk University.
  • A Black Arts Convention takes place in Detroit, Michigan. 

1967

  • Black musician John Coltrane dies July 17, 1967. He becomes a frequent subject of tribute poems.
  • Haki Madhubuti founds Third World Press in Chicago, Illinois along with Carolyn Rodgers and Johari Amini.. Third World Press was a prominent outlet for African American literature during the Black Arts Movement and is currently the largest independent Black-owned press in the United States.
  • For Malcolm: Poems on the Life and Death of Malcolm X, edited by Dudley Randall and Margaret Burroughs, is first published.
  • The Second Black Writers Convention is held at Fisk University.
  • A Second Black Arts Convention is held in Detroit.

1968

1969

1970

1971

 

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976