Black Consciousness

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  • Contemporary History (Post 1945)


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An awareness of the identity, aspirations, and commonality of the Black peoples of the world by those of African origin. In the 1920s it developed rapidly in the USA, where Marcus Garvey became a cult figure, while the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s brought Blacks into positions of considerable artistic and musical visibility. During the 1930s in Africa and the Caribbean the writings of Aimé Césaire and Léopold‐Sédar Senghor helped to cultivate ‘négritude’—the belief that the Black African has a distinct cultural heritage which has to be conserved against colonial pressures towards Europeanization. On both sides of the Atlantic there has been a nostalgia for the ‘beauty and harmony of traditional African society’, based on emotion, intuition, and spontaneous social interaction, as against the rationalistic tradition of European hellenism. In the 1950s and 1960s Black Consciousness spawned a variety of movements in the USA such as the Black Power movement, and intersected with non‐integrationist movements within the African‐American community such as the Nation of Islam.

Subjects: African Studies — Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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