Collaboration and dialogue were at the heart of the Black Arts Movement. This collection continues this necessary work. As co-editors, we came together from our respective departmental homes in English and art history to the essential interdisciplinary field of African American studies to hone and share our mutual interest in the arts and politics of the 1960s and 1970s. The response to our call for others immersed in this crucial period was extraordinary; we were inundated with fresh research. In the end, we selected essays that creatively addressed several new avenues of inquiry. What were the principal cities and sites of the movement? How were art forms fused and synthesized, and why were criteria for creating and evaluating art so hotly contested during the period? And what are the links between the Black Arts Movement and other sociocultural movements? Who are the movement's predecessors and peers, and what are its legacies?
Support for this dialogue and collaboration was indispensable. Leslie Mitchner, editor in chief at Rutgers University Press, offered crucial early support, encouragement, and guidance. Simply put, Leslie Mitchner and her colleagues at the press made this book possible. Our contributors inspired us with their originality and accessibility. We are honored to be in conversation with them, and we thank all of them for generously sharing their brand new work with us. Two of our intellectual role models, Houston A. Baker, Jr., Susan Fox Beischer and George D. Beischer Arts and Sciences Professor of English at Duke University, and Haki Madhubuti, Distinguished University Professor of English at Chicago State University and founder of Third World Press, graciously offered their supreme wisdom and valuable time. Bob Crawford, another vital role model, gallantly lent his visionary photography that so eloquently engages the movement and serves as the backbone of this book. The