To recognize Black History Month and celebrate Black achievement and excellence in America, FMG’s Black@FMG affinity group and our Driving Inclusion and Valuing Equity (DIVE) Committee created a Black Culture Curation Series. This series begins with Black Voices and Visuals, which highlights the legacy of Black art, literature, and music in America.
The influence of Black artists, authors, and musicians is present everywhere. FMG embarked on a journey to explore how Black art, literature, and music impacted not only key moments in history, but also the media that we enjoy today. We also set out to learn how Black art and literature has reflected the Black American experience throughout America’s history.
Blues was born out of the oppression experienced by African Americans in the late 1800s and the hope that was felt despite it. Later, between 1916 and 1960, rhythm and blues, or R&B, reflected the moving of Black communities from the rural south into cities. At the end of the 1950s, R&B laid the foundation for rock ‘n’ roll. In the late 70s and early 80s, young Black Americans living in New York were developing a sound that combined Caribbean musical techniques with soul, jazz, and funk, which are all musical styles that were developed by Black Americans. This new sound became known as rap or hip hop. By the mid-1980s, similar to the original blues born out of tales of everyday struggle, many rappers created music that spoke to the harsh realities of life in the inner cities. Today, many contemporary music genres are still influenced by Black musicians from the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, as well as the early days of jazz and the blues. And once again, this music is serving as the track to a revolutionary time in our country.
Similarly, Black authors and poets used their experiences to fuel their creativity, often writing about their history in America, from slavery to contemporary movements like Black Lives Matter. Black literature is filled with cadence, intentional repetition, and alliteration, and is linked to a rich pan-African oral tradition.
Check out FMG’s Voice and Visuals list below for our curated lists of authors and visual artists, as well as some of their most monumental works.
Poets and Poetry
Books to Read
Authors to Know
- Isabel Wilkerson–A Pulitzer prize-winning author of narrative nonfiction that focuses on marginalized groups.
- James Baldwin–A prominent novelist and essayist known for shedding light on oppressive systems and ideology.
- Best known for the following pieces: Giovanni’s Room (1956) Notes of a Native Son (1955) Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son (1961).
- Adrienne Maree Brown–A social justice facilitator, healer, and doula.
- Find some of her work on Amazon.
- Octavia E. Butler–Often known as the mother of Afrofuturism, which often involves Black identity, African mythology, and alternate histories involving the African Diaspora; more info here.
- Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents make up a powerful saga of survival and destiny in a near-future dystopian America.
- Jean-Michel Basquiat—Neo-expressionist painter of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent.
- Gordon Parks—An American photographer, musician, writer and film director, who became prominent in U.S. documentary photojournalism in the 1940s through 1970s—particularly in issues of civil rights.
- Faith Ringgold—A painter, mixed media sculptor, performance artist, writer, teacher and lecturer.
- Lorna Simpson—A pioneer of conceptual photography, redefining photographic practice for contemporary relevance.
- Dana Scruggs—A photographer and director.
- Melissa Alcena—A portrait and documentary photographer.
Explore the rest of FMG’s Black Culture Curation Series here. To learn more about FMG’s DIVE Committee, the Black@FMG affinity group, and our commitment to a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace, visit our Culture page.