The Black Arts Convention – 1966

The photograph for today was taken during the Black Arts Convention in Detroit. It was 1966.  I was 19 and Jim was 21.  This was LaSalle Park, which was located a few blocks from my father’s church on Linwood.  I don’t remember why this session was held at the park, but I do remember walking back to church where other closing activities were held.

Black Arts Convention 1966 at LaSalle Park, Detroit. That is Jim and me over in the lower left corner.
jim and kris 1966
Me looking adoringly at Jim. Click to enlarge.

During that week, from Thursday through Sunday, The Black Arts Convention was held at Central United Church of Christ. There were workshops on the visual arts, theater, literature, religion and politics. There were arguments and sincere discussions. People from all over the country attended. I was going to write it all up, but I cut my finger last night while cooking dinner and typing is s-l-o-w today.

I am linking to this article, A Report On the Black Arts Convention, by Dudley Randall from The Negro Digest, Aug. 1966, on Google Books. It is a very good description of the convention.

A letter of thanks from “Forum ’66”, the group that organized the Black Arts Convention.

This is the 27th post in the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day of both challenges and that I’ve posted every day.

18 thoughts on “The Black Arts Convention – 1966

  1. I continue to be amazed how close you were to so many historic events. There was so much energy in the 60s focused on creating the conditions for positive change.

  2. You do look rather sweet & adoring. 🙂 And that was quite a nice letter. But the picture fascinated me because of the diversity of it – so many different types of people all gathered together to try to make a difference. I think it will be a long time before we see another era like the 1960s. People & ideas & freedoms broke forth and blossomed.

    1. They were all African Americans, from Detroit either originally or at the time. The lady sitting on the bench who looks white, isn’t. Her son is the one in African attire to the far right of the photo. He was the head of the Yoruba Village in South Carolina. The women are with him. The other man in the half off attire was a teacher in the Detroit public schools. There was one Japanese American, my now husband Jim’s roommate. He spent time in the internment camps as a child. He is directly behind us in the header.

  3. In most of the photos of you, you look so serious. Here you’re smiling. The Black Arts Convention must have required a lot of organization to cover so many topics.

    1. True love always makes me smile. I’m sure it did take a lot of organization. I wasn’t in the organizing group, though, so I just got to attend.

  4. It must have been interesting and exciting to be part of that convention. It’s too bad you hurt your finger and couldn’t write more about your personal experience of it.

    1. Yes, the year that I wrote this, I had sliced the tip of my finger off while chopping up collard greens. Very painful but now totally healed.

  5. The photo has a sense of anticipation and it makes for an interesting personal detail. It seems like everyone was listening or waiting to hear someone speak, but I couldn’t determine who was the focus.

    1. Attention does seem to be scattered. Maybe it was a pause between speakers. I don’t think it was anybody in the photo who was going to speak.

  6. I am often in awe of your experiences Kristin. Your blogs are always so interesting and informative.

    A wonderful letter to have too!

    Thanks again for sharing.

    1. At this point we were actually past the civil rights movement and into the black power movement. We could vote, ride in the front of the bus etc. in Detroit. Housing was quite segregated but there was no push for integration of housing. The cry was for control of our own communities.

  7. A great example of the art of photo-analysis. That first photograph is so full of activity and so full of history. Indeed it is a great moment in history perfectly captured by the photographic arts.

  8. Ah, young love…such a happy photo, and here you are all these years later. the original photo is amazing not just for its historic value, but for the disparate people gathered there.

  9. That’s the look of love for sure. Jim looks as though he is overcome by the emotion of it. Very interesting letter too.

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