The 1960s and ’70s witnessed hundreds of race-related uprisings across major US cities. Often provoked by white-authored shootings of Black people, these rebellions galvanized a generation of activists—including Black Arts Movement dramatists Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Lola E. Jones, and Carol Freeman—to create works that sustain the hearts, minds, and souls of Black Americans. While Baraka’s Arm Yourself, Or Harm Yourself (1967) offers a representative engagement with the Black Power rhetoric of gun ownership, hegemonic masculinity, and white-authored gun violence, Sanchez’s The Bronx Is Next (1968), Jones’s The New Nigger, or Who’s Afraid of William Faulkner (1976), and Freeman’s The Suicide (1966) provide a unique departure. Collectively, their works produce womanist thought that complicates Black Power rhetoric of gun ownership and masculinist understandings of Black liberation. Recovering these less-studied works reveals not only how the Black Arts Movement was not so uniformly masculinist as it has sometimes been depicted, but also how these early womanist interventions laid a critical foundation for the Black Lives Matter movement of today.


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pp. 467-488
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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