The Black Arts Movement project: New Spring semester independent studies program at Lincoln University

By Nicole Webb

This spring semester, Lincoln University’s Humanities Department is welcoming the Black Arts Movement Project, an independent studies program that will offer undergraduate students the opportunity to receive a deeper insight to the time period essential to current Black Art.

The Black Arts Movement Project, a component of the fall semester Black Power Movement Project, is a semester-long research and writing study that allows students the chance to study the works of artists during the 1965-1976 Black Arts Movement. Covering the works of many Black Arts Movement contributors, such as writer Alice Walker and Larry Neal, a Lincoln alum, students will study a plethora of compositions that influenced the Black Arts era.

This new independent studies program started off as a small idea of a Lincoln University English Department professor, Pia Deas. Deas, who is currently head of the Black Arts Movement Project, developed the idea of the Black Arts Movement Project as an independent study for undergraduate Lincoln students interested in art to connect with their own African art history.

“African Americans have a legacy. This is an opportunity for these students to embody the tenets of the Black Arts Movement to create community…and [gain] an appreciation for [their] Black art made for, about, and by Black people,” stated Deas.

Students that will be participating in the program next semester are mostly based in the university’s Humanities Department, lead by Cheryl Gooch.

“I am excited for this new program. I think that it’s essential for we, as young artists and poets, to know from which we’ve come from…to know the history of those who have come before us,” stated Shanell Bowie, a student of the program next semester.

The new studies has caused a small buzz on campus as even students outside of the Black Arts Movement project are excited to see what great achievements the new program will bring about.

“I’ve heard so many great things about the program. I think that this is a vital part of African American history and hopefully in the long run it will become a part of the Black Studies program,” stated Brianna McPherson, a Lincoln University sophomore with a minor in Black Studies.

Toward the end of the program, as a final project, Deas plans to hold a showcase in the university’s Ware Center where students will perform one of their favorite works from the semester. Deas hopes to also unite with the university’s poetry slam organization Infinite Supply of Passionate and Intense Talent, also known as I.S.P.I.T., in which Deas is an advisor for.

“Incorporating I.S.P.I.T. with the Black Arts Movement Project would be amazing. I think it would also give members the chance to be aware and informed of the poets and writers that changed history before we were born, in addition to learning the material,” stated Alyssa Baker, historian of I.S.P.I.T.

In the long run, Deas plans to expand the Black Arts Movement Project studies in a way that it will go beyond the campus of Lincoln University. The studies’ leader has already constructed a website for other universities and professors that wish to teach the Black Arts Movement. The website, which will go live to its users in January of 2013, will include lesson plans created by current students of the Black Arts Movement Project and links to information that will assists professors in their lesson plans. In addition, Deas wishes to reach out to living artists of the Black Arts Movement, in hopes of getting the legendary contributors of the era to come to the university to hold seminars for Lincoln students.

With most of the students a part of the new program being active members of artistic organizations on Lincoln University’s campus, it seems almost inevitable that the Black Arts Movement Project will heavily influence its participants.

“I hope that at the end of this project the students walk away with something…that they take something essential away with them. If I’ve taught them nothing, I hope that they will keep with them the works and the legacy of this great era.”

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