Larry Neal was one of the most influential scholars, authors and philosophers of the BAM. He has been characterized as a spiritual journeyman of the BAM. Neal was born in 1937 in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up in Philadelphia. He received his degree from Lincoln University and a masters from the University of Pennsylvania.
Neal is best known for several significant works in the BAM. He is noted for his work with Liberator Magazine, Black Theatre Magazine, Negro Digest and Black World and also for co-editing Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing, a collection of theory, poetry and prose by writers of the BAM, with Amiri Baraka.
Editor's Note: Read the rest of Larry Neal's Bio at http://www.umich.edu/~eng499/people/neal.html this site provides a rather comprehensive look at the entire Black Arts Movement.
Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing
Click to order via Amazon
Editors: Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal
ISBN 13: 978-1-57478-039-0
677 pp., $24.95
First published: 1968; Black Classic published date: 2006
While many texts are readily available chronicling the Black Power Movement, the same cannot be said for its 'aesthetic and spiritual sister,' the Black Arts Movement. Black Fire is a rare exception that documents and captures the social and cultural turmoil of the period.
Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal, co-editors and contributors to this volume, saw Black Fire as a manifesto to bring about change in Black thought and action, generated from a Black aesthetic. Often considered the seminal work from the Black Arts Movement, Black Fire is a rich anthology and an extraordinary source document, presenting 178 selections of poetry, essays, short stories and plays from cultural critics, literary artists and political leaders. Many of the contributors became prominent, nationally and internationally. Others receded into the cultural landscape, even before Black Fire's first publication in 1968. Included in this groundbreaking volume are essays by John Henrik Clarke, Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), Harold Cruse, and A.B. Spellman; poetry by Askia Toure, Sonia Sanchez, Gaston Neal, Stanley Crouch, Calvin C. Hernton, and surprisingly Sun-Ra; fiction by Julia Fields and drama from Ed Bullins. Sixty-three additional contributors round out this comprehensive work.
These are the wizards, the bards, the babalawo, the shaiks, of Weusi Mchoro. These descriptions will be carried for the next thousand years'
'We are being good. We are the beings of goodness, again. We will be righteous and our creations good and strong and righteous, and teaching. The teaching and the descriptions. The will and the strength. Songs, chants, 'bad sh*t goin down,' rendered as the light beam of God warms your hearts forever. Forget, and reget. Reget and forget. Where it was. This is the source, Kitab Sudan. The black man's comfort and guide. Where we was we will be agin. Tho the map be broke and thorny tho the wimmens sell they men, then cry up hell to get them back our here agin. In the middle of my life, In the middle of our dreams. The black artist. The black man. The holy holy black man. The man you seek. The climber the striver. The maker of peace. The lover. The warrior. We are they whom you seek. Look in. Find yr self. Find the being, the speaker. The voice, the back dust hover in your soft eyeclosings. Is you. Is the creator. Is nothing. Plus or minus, you vehicle! We are presenting. Your various selves. We are presenting from God, a tone, your own. Go on. Now.
From the Foreword
African American Theater: Afrocentricity in the Works of Larry Neal, Amiri
Baraka, and Charles Fuller
(Click to buy this book online now)
by Nilgun Anadolu Okur
Publisher: Garland Publishing, Incorporated
Pub. Date: July 1997
The Black Arts Movement was sparked by the Civil Rights movement and the urge to produce and revitalize functional, realistic, and holistic symbols to express African American creativity. When Larry Neal began his quest for a new dramatic form to epitomize African American self-determination he laid the foundation upon which his friends and compatriots-Amiri Baraka and Charles Fuller-would build. Expressing their individual protests through their writings, these artists soon united in their attack against Eurocentrism, which traditionally minimized or neglected the roles played by Africans and African Americans on the world stage. Their writings signaled a radical change in the form and content of African American writing, particularly drama.
In this insightful examination of African American cultural history, the author explores the heart of the dramatic imagination of African Americans during the turbulent years of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. The analysis of the works of these three important dramatists reveals the roots of an Afrocentric approach to the theater, and introduces a new methodology for exploring Afrocentrism that is particularly suited to classes in African American drama and literature.