Global Black Arts Movements


Spanning nearly a century, Global Black Arts Movements represent a momentous period of creative expression, literary development, and institution-building among artists/writers throughout the western hemisphere. Essayists, poets, visual and performing artists forged vital historical, social, and cultural interconnections that flourished between the US, Europe, Africa, and Caribbean during the 20th century. Collectively, the cultural and historical significance of six 20th century, global Black Arts Movements has been long unexplored. These fascinating, yet often overlooked movements include: Indigéniste (Haiti, 1920s), Négrismo (Cuba & Puerto Rico, 1920s-1930s), Négritude (Paris, French Guiana, Martinique, 1930s-1950s), New Negro Movement/Harlem Renaissance (1917-1935), New Negro Movement/Black Chicago Renaissance (1935-1950), and the Black Arts Movement (1965-1975). 

Borne from a synthesis of anti-imperialist struggle, Pan-African activism, and international solidarity, the Global Black Arts Movements linked Black artists-activists in a global campaign for freedom, liberation, and cultural autonomy. Black intellectuals and artists developed and used art to mount protracted campaigns of resistance, social justice, critical remembering, historical recovery, literacy, institution-building, education, and cultural expression.

The art, music, and literature developed during this period served serval key functions which included: 

  • bringing African people together in appreciation of their culture;
  • exploring the roots of their African heritage;
  • interrogating how those roots shaped their collective identity;
  • re-inscribing cultural memory and re-connecting cultural genealogy;
  • confronting and resisting stereotypes, racism, and imperialism.

Poet, novelist, essayist, and social activist Langston Hughes was a major advocate and force for the recovery, interpretation, and sharing of these arts traditions. As Hughes wrote, "Black Arts writers created art to express their "individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame” (Hughes, The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain, para. 15).