‘SOS—Calling All Black People’ Wins Praise from Essence Magazine

“SOS—Calling All Black People: A Black Arts Movement Reader,” edited by professors John H. Bracey Jr. and James Smethurst of Afro-American studies and poet Sonia Sanchez and published by the UMass Press, is a February Pick by Essence Magazine.

Patrik Henry Bass of Essence calls the book “a tour-de-force collection of the greatest writers and thinkers from the 1960s to the 1970s, during one of the most electrifying periods in American arts and letters.”

The volume brings together a broad range of key writings from the Black Arts Movement, the aesthetic counterpart of the Black Power movement, which burst onto the scene in the form of artists’ circles, writers’ workshops, drama groups, dance troupes, new publishing ventures, bookstores and cultural centers. Black Arts activists extended its reach even further through magazines such as Ebony and Jet, on radio and on television shows such as “Soul!” and “Like It Is.”

“SOS—Calling All Black People” includes works of fiction, poetry, and drama in addition to critical writings on issues of politics, aesthetics and gender. It covers topics ranging from the legacy of Malcolm X and the impact of John Coltrane’s jazz to the tenets of the Black Panther Party and the music of Motown. The editors provides a substantial introduction outlining the nature, history and legacy of the Black Arts Movement as well as the principles by which the anthology was assembled.