New York Altar City: New York,
the Northeast, and the Development of
Black Arts Cadres and Ideologies
New York altar city / black tears / secret disciples
BOB KAUFMAN, "Walking Parker Home"
The Northeast, particularly New York City, is frequently cited as the birthplace of the Black Arts movement. This is due in no small part to the national reputations of Amiri Baraka, Larry Neal, and the relatively short-lived BARTS in Harlem and to Baraka's coinage of the term that came to designate the movement. It also has to do with the long-held notion of Harlem as the center of African American intellectual, artistic, and political life, a notion that retained a strong hold on many leading Black Power and Black Arts activists, even as the geographical extent of those movements radically destabilized any notion of a single "capital"—or even of two or three primary sites. And of course, a great many important poets, dramatists, fiction writers, visual artists, musicians, dancers, and critics associated with the Black Arts movement lived in New York City for some significant period during the 1960s and 1970s. Among them were Baraka, Neal, Sonia Sanchez, Addison Gayle Jr., Jayne Cortez, Keorapetse Kgositsile, Yusef Rahman, Nikki Giovanni, David Henderson, Calvin Hernton, Eleo Pomare, Ishmael Reed, Lorenzo Thomas, Ron Milner, David Rambeau, Askia Touré, Harold Cruse, Ed Bullins, Woodie King Jr., Barbara Ann Teer, Ernest Allen Jr., Tom Dent, Marvin X, Henry Dumas, Edward Spriggs, and the Last Poets.