In 1965, a second wave of Renaissance – building off the Harlem Renaissance of decades prior – swept through the African American community. During a time of great social upheaval and civil unrest, this wave became known as the Black Arts Movement, and sought to increase representation of both African Americans in the art world, as well as in the art they physically created. Amiri Baraka, poet and playwright, set this wave into motion with the creation of the Black Arts Repertory Theater/School (BART/S) in Harlem. It was in this artistic realm that Baraka worked to create a culture of political, social, and cultural involvement; artists created works that were very heavily politically charged, yet that also explored the unique culture and heritage of the African American community.
Much of the message of Black Art and the artists who created it is a sense of self-determination and self-reliance for African American communities. When African Americans owned prominent businesses, agencies, and organizations, they could work to ensure the community is self-sustaining, not only rejecting the political and cultural traditions of generations past, but also working to ensure the African American community had a unique voice that was distinct from the dominant white population of these various artistic realms. The movement as a whole was rather short – lasting for about a decade in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the black arts movement would be responsible for spreading countless individuals throughout the realm of political activism, for giving people the ability to use their voice among various forms of the mass media, and for prompting more and more people to be involved in their communities.