Black Creativity: on the Cutting Edge

African-American art has had a long history, but its latest flowering may be the most promising of all

Here's the difference this time around. It's not that there are black artists and intellectuals who matter; it's that so many of the artists and intellectuals who matter are black. It's not that the cultural cutting edge has been influenced by black creativity; it's that black creativity, it so often seems today, is the cultural cutting edge. But be advised: the idea of a black American renaissance has a long and curious history, having been declared at least three times before in this century.

Writing in 1901, the distinguished black critic and poet William Stanley Braithwaite argued, "We are at the...

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