This independent study seeks to analyze the work of three artist during the Black Arts Movement – James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, and Nina Simone – and how they used their unique forms of art to critique U.S. racism, and interrogate the limitations of American identity. The Civil Rights Movement is too often associated with the nonviolent movement in the South. These artists, however, sought to address other issues such as homophobia, housing/job/education discrimination, and neo-colonization that were afflicting blacks throughout the U.S. Although there is currently a significant amount scholarship which focuses on the intersections between the Black Arts Movement and civil rights ideologies, this I.S. builds upon previous work as it examines each artist’s influence on issues that were not commonly discussed within the movement. Through a close examination of three types of art – novels/essays, theater performance, and musical performance, concurrent with memoirs, interviews, and speeches – this I.S. attempts to explain the historical significance of issues that each individual felt was necessary to address through their work, as well as their criticism of U.S. racism.


King, Shannon



Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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