Building the Black Arts Movement

Hoyt Fuller and the Cultural Politics of the 1960s

By Jonathan Fenderson

A revolution in African American culture and the figure who helped bring it to fruition.

As both an activist and the dynamic editor of Negro Digest, Hoyt Fuller stood at the nexus of the Black Arts Movement and the broader black cultural politics of his time. Jonathan Fenderson uses historical snapshots of Fuller’s life and achievements to rethink the period and establish Fuller’s important role in laying the foundation for the movement. In telling Fuller’s story, Fenderson provides provocative new insights into the movement’s international dimensions, the ways the movement took shape at the local level, the impact of race and other factors, and the challenges—corporate, political, and personal—that Fuller and others faced in trying to build black institutions.

An innovative study that approaches the movement from a historical perspective, “Building the Black Arts Movement is a much-needed reassessment of the trajectory of African American culture over two explosive decades.

“Jonathan Fenderson’s ‘Building the Black Arts Movement is a brilliant study of one of the key figures of the Black Arts and Black Power movements. Fenderson’s account of Fuller is also a history of Black Arts and Black Power in Chicago that in turn illuminates the ideological, aesthetic, and institutional development of black political and cultural radicalism in the 1960s and 1970s.”–James Smethurst, author of “The Black Arts Movement: Literary Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s

“Very powerfully and marvelously written—a page turner. Fenderson’s book is bound to reach a wide audience with this mastery of narrative and exposition. Indeed, I don’t think that the story of the Black Arts Movement has been told in such a sweeping narrative of that era.”–Komozi Woodard, author of “A Nation within a Nation: Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Black Power Politics


Jonathan Fenderson is an assistant professor of African and African American studies in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

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