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The Black Arts Movement And Black Aesthetics (Essay Sample)


“Letter From Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King
“The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Malcolm X
“Twenty-Six Ways of Looking at a Blackman” by Raymond Patterson
Using these 3 works answer the following question In what ways are these literary works political and nationalistic (pro-Black) in accordance with the Black Aesthetic?
• Essay must include direct quotes from this text/these texts.
• Essay must include direct quotes from at least two secondary sources:
o Introductions, timelines, biographies in the Norton Anthology of African American Literature
o MLA International Bibliography database articles
o JSTOR database articles
o Books in the library
• No internet sources should be used in this essay.
• Essay must include a List of Works Cited at the end
• Pages should be numbered
• Essay should have a descriptive title, not just “Paper 3”


The Black Arts Movement
The black arts movement became the major turning point of the African American literature, during this period; there was a major shift in understanding African American literature. Writers conscious were awakened, African American intellectuals, activists, and artists used their skills to influence the African American community. Literature during this period was published to empower and uplift African American ideologies, the themes and concepts raised by black art movement artists changed the American attitude towards the true meaning of literature.
The black aesthetic is a trend used to describe literature, poetry, music, art and any forms of artistic expression that focused on black life and culture. With racial inequality prevailing, black leaders made a significant contribution using different forms of literature. The black arts movement presented Afro-American desire for self-determination and nationhood; several African American leaders explored the African American cultural and historical experience as a way of transforming the way African American literature was perceived.
The Norton Anthology of African American Literature is a comprehensive work that gathers writing from the six periods of the black history since the black art movement began in the 1970s. This comprehensive collection includes the vernacular tradition of spiritual, gospel and blues, musical expression of jazz and rap to sermon and folktales, letters, journals, poetry, and autobiography (Henry Louis, Smith, and Benston 168). All the literary work represented black aesthetic. A wide range of activist, artist, and intellectuals theorized the work of self-consciousness of racial opposition and the use of black aesthetics became anachronistic because of its shared ideologies (Crawford 251). Notably, the literary works of Martin Luther King Jr, the autobiography of Malcolm X and Twenty-six ways of Looking at Blackman by Raymond Patterson are some of the political and nationalistic expression that was in accordance with the black aesthetic (McGraughy 143).
The black arts movement and Black aesthetics
Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, and Raymond Patterson's literature played a significant role during the three crucial periods, namely, the Harlem Renaissance, the civil rights era in 1950 and the black art movement in the late 1970s(McGraughy 109). During these periods, the three activists expressively changed the meaning and function of African American literature. During the Harlem Renaissance between 1919 to 1940, artist and intellectuals played an important role to influence the political agenda using different forms of literature (McGraughy 126). Many writers used literature as a tool for social empowerment (Crawford 172).
The black movement emerged in the middle of the twentieth century with a wide range of critics, activist and intellectual theorizing about the black ideologies of self-consciousness (Crawford 183). The black art movement emerged as a response to the perceived failure of the Harlem Renaissance. Many African American writers and poets wanted to redefine their work based on Black Aesthetic. Young activists became the voice of change, they used literature as an empowerment tool, most of their artworks were published in many journals, and magazines, reaching out to a wider audience (Crawford 197).
Letter from Birmingham Jail" by Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King Jr. made a remarkable contribution to the Black Aesthetic, his “Letter From Birmingham Jail" is among the many literary works that became a landmark document because it promoted political and nationalistic ideologies in accordance with the Black Aesthetic (McGraughy 131). After bein...

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