Black Nationalism and Black Arts Movement

Black Nationalism in the US dates back at least to the early 19th century and the back-to-Africa movement that eventually led to the formation of Liberia. The 20th century saw several waves of Black Nationalism, especially the movement led by Marcus Garvey in the early 20th, and the resurgence starting in the mid-1960s led by figures like Malcolm X. This latter movement and its particularly strong cultural dimension, as manifested by such phenomena as the Black Arts Movement, are the main focus of the resources below.

Featured Site:

History and Legacy of Black Nationalist Movement Cultures

Books and Articles

  • Acham, Christine. Revolution Televised: Prime Time and the Struggle for Black Power. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004. Explores the way TV performers like Richard Pryor, Diahann Carroll, and Redd Foxx were influenced by and in turn popularized certain black power ideas via mainstream television in the late 1960s and early 1970s. See also chapter 2 on news coverage of the black power movement.
  • Bambara, Toni Cade. Black Woman, An Anthology. New York: New American Library, 1970. Classic set of creative and critical writing offering a feminist or womanist take on black power and the Black Arts.
  • ———. The Salt Eaters. New York: Random House, 1980. Great novel about the aftermath of the black power movement among black activists, especially women.
  • Baraka, Amiri (Leroi Jones). Selected Plays and Prose of Amiri Baraka. New York: Morrow, 1979. Traces the evolution of Baraka’s black power aesthetic.
  • Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story. New York: Anchor/Doubleday, 1992. Autobiography of one of the most influential women in the Black Panther Party.
  • Bullins, Ed, ed. New Plays for the Black Theater. New York: Bantam, 1969. Selection of black power plays by a variety of playwrights.
  • ———. The Theme Is Blackness. New York: Morrow, 1973. Collected black power era plays of this onetime Black Panther Party member and key black playwright.
  • Chapman, Abraham ed. New Black Voices. New York: Penguin/Putnam, 1972. A key anthology from the era, including black power poetry, drama, fiction, and criticism.
  • Cleaver, Eldridge. Soul on Ice. New York: McGraw-Hill/Ramparts Book, 1967. One of the most widely read books of the black power era. Sensationalist and powerful.
  • Cleaver, Kathleen, and George Katsiaficas, eds. Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party: A New Look at the Panthers and Their Legacy. New York: Routledge, 2001. Reconsideration of the Black Panther Party by members and scholars. See especially the essays by Churchill, K. Cleaver (chapter 8), and Doss.
  • Collins, Lisa Gail, and Margo Natalie Crawford, eds. New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2006. Fine collection that includes coverage of less studied genres (photography, painting, drag performance), looks at regional variations (Chicago, LA, Detroit), compares other politico-aesthethic movements (feminist, Puerto Rican), and raises themes like sexual identity neglected in earlier scholarship.
  • Fabvre, Geneviève. Drumbeats, Masks, and Metaphor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983. Sophisticated study of black theater, especially the black power phase.
  • Foner, Philip S., ed. The Black Panthers Speak. New York: Da Capo Press, 2002. Reprint of a key book introducing the Black Panther Party to a wider audience than when originally published in 1970.
  • Gayle, Addison, ed. The Black Aesthetic. New York: Doubleday, 1971. Key text of essays from the era trying to define a black power aesthetic.
  • Hilliard, David, and Donald Weise, eds. Huey P. Newton Reader. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2002. Key selections from Newton’s writings that give a sense of his intellectual and ideological range.
  • Jones, Charles, ed. The Black Panther Party Reconsidered. Baltimore: Black Classics Press, 1998. Excellent collection of analytic essays. See especially pieces by Singh, Abron, and all of section 4 on gender dynamics in the party.
  • Nelson, Alondra. Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination.
    U of Minnesota P, 2011. Tells the little known story of the Panthers' influential role in the rise of community health care.
  • Newton, Huey P. To Die for the People: The Writings of Huey P. Newton, ed. Toni Morrison. 1972; repr. New York: Writers and Readers Publishers, 1995. This collection gives a sense of Newton's writings as published during the black power era.
  • Smethurst, James. The Black Arts Movement: Literary Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s. U of North Carolina P, 2005. The richest historical treatment of the roots and development of the Black arts movement.
  • Van Deburg, William. New Day in Babylon: The Black Power Movement and American Culture, 1965-1975. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. The most comprehensive examination to date of the impact of black power and the Black Arts movement on all aspects of U.S. culture.
  • Widener, Daniel. Black Arts West: Culture and Struggle in Postwar Los Angeles. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2010.


  • All Power to the People! The Black Panther Party and Beyond. Directed by Lee Lew Lee. Filmakers Library, 1996. Documentary film placing the Black Panther Party in the wider context of black liberation struggles.
  • Eyes on the Prize (second series). Directed by Sheila Curran Bernard and others. Blackside, 1990. Eight-part series that takes up the story of the movement where the first Eyes on the Prize series ends, as the black power phase emerges.
  • Huey P. Newton. Directed by Spike Lee. Luna Ray Films, 1990. Film based on Robert Guenveur Smith's one-man play. Newton's political brilliance and street craziness seamlessly abide side by side. See the PBS site for the film.
  • Panther. Directed by Mario Van Peebles. Polygram/Tribeca Productions, 1990. Not always good history but often good drama, this fiction film introduced the Panthers to new generations.
  • Public Enemy. Directed by Jens Meurer. Icarus Films, 1990. Tells the story of the Black Panthers via memories and analysis by former party members Bobby Seale, Kathleen Cleaver, Nile Rogers, and Jamal Joseph.