Behold the Land: The Black Arts Movement in the South

Univ. of North Carolina. Jun. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9781469663043. $29.95. SOC SCI
Smethurst (W. E. B. Du Bois Dept. of Afro-American Studies, Univ. of Massachusetts–Amherst; Brick City Vanguard) examines the Black Arts Movement in regions of the American South, including Houston, New Orleans, and Washington, DC. This meticulously researched book discusses many aspects of the movement, which witnessed the height of its popularity during the 1960s and 1970s. Smethurst takes readers on a chronological tour of the movement and notes that Black Arts and Black Power were closely paired. Cities and states with HBCUs also had strong ties to the Black Arts movement. As a community-based enterprise, the Black Arts Movement left an indelible mark on many areas of the South. In the early 1970s, Nashville, known for its predominantly white country music scene, also had a thriving Black music scene and Black-owned bookstore; Atlanta too had a flourishing arts community, which continues to support many cultural events that originated with the movement. By the mid-1980s, several of the organizations, literary journals, and bookstores inspired by the Black Arts Movement had disappeared, owing to federal budget cuts or other social changes. Smethurst’s book honors and celebrates these vanished cultural endeavors.
VERDICT A scholarly work recommended for readers interested in Black history and culture in the U.S.
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