In Search of Our Warrior Mothers: Women Dramatists of the Black Arts Movement
by La Donna Forsgren
Northwestern University Press, 2018
Paper: 978-0-8101-3693-9 | eISBN: 978-0-8101-3695-3 | Cloth: 978-0-8101-3694-6
Library of Congress Classification PS153.N5F677 2018
Dewey Decimal Classification 812.5409928709


The Black Arts Movement (1965–76) consisted of artists across the United States deeply concerned about the relationship between politics and the black aesthetic. In Search of Our Warrior Mothers examines how the Black Arts Movement provided a forum for black women playwrights to express feminist attitudes from within black nationalist discourses. La Donna L. Forsgren recuperates the careers, artistic theories, and dramatic contributions of leading women playwrights of the Black Arts Movement: Martie Evans-Charles, J.e. Franklin, Sonia Sanchez, and Barbara Ann Teer. Presenting four original case studies, Forsgren uses original interviews, production recordings, playbills, and unpublished manuscripts to investigate the careful negotiations of writers who contributed significantly to the creation, interpretation, and dissemination of black aesthetic theory.

Black feminist drama, Forsgren argues, was a development within the Black Arts Movement, not a sharp break from it. Despite operating within a masculinist context that equated the collective well-being of black people with black male agency, these black women intellectuals centered their dramas around black women, validated female aspirations for autonomy, and explored women’s roles in the struggle for liberation from white hegemony. Whether working from within or outside of tightly knit Black Arts circles, these warrior mothers resisted both racism and sexism and redefined black empowerment to include the liberation of women, men, and children.

In Search of Our Warrior Mothers opens an interdisciplinary conversation at the intersections of theater, performance, feminist, and African American studies, identifying and critiquing the gaps and silences within these fields.

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