African American Nationalist Literature of the 1960s Pens of Fire
Bringing together political theory and literary works, this study recreates the political climate which made the 1960s an unforgettable era for young black Americans. A chapter on The Many Shades of Black Nationalism, for instance, explains: why black nationalism is known by more than a dozen different names; how events in Africa influenced black nationalism in America; why Malcolm X's death had a greater impact on nationalism than did his life; and how the United States government unwittingly became nationalism's ally. Another chapter explores the bitter feud between the dominant factions of the 1960s-cultural and revolutionary nationalists. This feud erupted in both verbal and armed warfare and generated an abundance of political theory and literary works, much of which is out of circulation but is examined in the study. Nationalist poetry, theater, and fiction are each treated in separate chapters which exemplify the aesthetic and political concerns of this memorable period in American history and letters. Aside from its unique combination of artistic and political works, what makes this book important is the current revival of nationalist sentiment in African American life and arts. Though this revival is closely identified with the nationalism of the 1960s, it lacks the focus of that period. This study explains what gave the nationalism of the 1960s its focus, how that focus was expressed in art forms, and why 1960s nationalism continues to influence the African American identity and will probably do so well into the twenty-first century.