Summer of Soul- A Moment of Reclaiming

Summer of Soul follows the iconic 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, meant to uplift and celebrate Black culture. The Black Power movement started in 1966, but what people tend to not realize is that the Black Arts Movement worked in tandem with the Black Panther Party, The contributors were considered cultural nationalists. The Black Arts movement was a period of time where African-American artists focused on the Arts and their impact in order to push the envelope, rewrite the narrative around Black bodies, and embrace Blackness as a valuable cultural identity.

This whole era of Civil Rights was about denying whiteness and embracing what we had been taught to deny. Fashion and hair were major components of this denial. Afros, braids, and other natural hairstyles were becoming increasingly popular. Dashikis, Kente cloths, and other Africanist textiles were also seen throughout this era. What I loved about Summer of Soul though was the lens it gave us into what it was like being a young person through this turn of a culture. So often, there can be this disconnect between older generations and their young grandchildren. It was so nice to see in person what it looks like to push the boundaries and piss off your parents over 50 years ago. Every generation has a cross to bear and must accept and introduce ideas that their predecessors never would have. Respectability politics was such a major part of the Civil Rights movement during the 50s and 60s, and the Black Power Movement was a swift change to this dynamic. Summer of Soul’s name was also ( Or when revolution cannot be televised), yet we got to see a single spark of this revolution live and in our faces.

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