Two Washington State University Vancouver professors have chronicled one of America’s preeminent artistic and cultural movements in a new film and will screen it on two campuses this month.

“BAM! Chicago’s Black Arts Movement” introduces viewers to more than a dozen writers, artists, musicians and community organizers who were instrumental in the campaign centered on black pride and aesthetic. People like poet Eugene Redmond, musician Mwata Bowden, and Dr. Safisha Madhubuti, who founded four African-centered schools and went on to teach at Northwestern University before retiring in 2018.

Pavithra Narayanan.
Thabiti Lewis.

“BAM!” is the brainchild of Thabiti Lewis, WSU associate professor of English, who met many of the important figures in the movement in his 20s while working for Third World Press in Chicago – founded in 1967 as a platform for black literature.

“They were committed to making a positive impact in their community,” Lewis said of the movement’s leaders. “The Civil Rights struggle reached its apex during the Black Arts Movement and people in Chicago were concerned with the community’s needs in terms of resources and creating art that impacted the souls, minds and spirits of those around them.”

Lewis began working on “BAM! Chicago’s Black Arts Movement” while writing a book on the same subject. He enlisted help with the film from English department colleague Pavithra Narayanan.

It will be screened at WSU Vancouver at 3:45 p.m. Sept. 10 in room 110 of Dengerink Administration Building and on the Pullman campus at 5 p.m. Sept. 11 in room 5062 of the Fine Arts Building. Q&A sessions with the filmmakers are scheduled to follow both screenings.

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