The Black Arts Movement (1965–76) consisted of artists across the United States deeply concerned with the relationship between politics and the black aesthetic. In Search of Our Warrior Mothers examines the ways in which black women playwrights in the movement advanced feminist and womanist perspectives from within black nationalist discourses. La Donna L. Forsgren recuperates the careers, artistic theories, and dramatic contributions of four leading playwrights: Martie Evans-Charles, J.e. Franklin, Sonia Sanchez, and Barbara Ann Teer. Using original interviews, production recordings, playbills, and unpublished manuscripts, she investigates how these women, despite operating within a context that equated the collective well-being of black people with black male agency, created works that validated black women's aspirations for autonomy and explored women's roles in the struggle for black liberation.
In Search of Our Warrior Mothers demonstrates the powerful contributions of women to the creation, interpretation, and dissemination of black aesthetic theory, thus opening an interdisciplinary conversation at the intersections of theater, performance, feminist, and African American studies and identifying and critiquing the gaps and silences within these fields.
“This is a well-written and highly original study. There currently isn’t another book that covers in such detail the work of these playwrights, and it should therefore make a major contribution to the field of African American theater history.” —Sandra Adell, author of Double-Consciousness/Double Bind: Theoretical Issues in Twentieth-Century Black Literature, and editor of Contemporary Plays by African American Women: Ten Complete Plays
“Anyone interested in the sexual, racial, and aesthetic politics of the Black Arts Movement needs to read La Donna Forsgren’s In Search of Our Warrior Mothers. Combining meticulous textual analysis, archival research, original interviews, and incisive critical sensibility, Forsgren tells a story long overdue. And she tells it brilliantly, disrupting our assumptions about the Black Arts Movement and the woman-centered drama that emerged from it. I closed this book with renewed appreciation of both the plays and the women who wrote them.” —Mike Sell, author of The Avant-Garde: Race Religion War