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Gerald Early

Stanley Crouch was born in Los Angeles. His father was a heroin addict and his mother a hard-working domestic who taught him to read before he entered school. Although Crouch attended both East Los Angeles Junior College and Southwest Junior College, he never earned a degree. In effect, he is an autodidact and his work reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the untrained intellectual. During the 1960s, Crouch became enamored of black nationalism and the theater. He was well known in black nationalist circles and was an actor, director, and playwright. He also was a drummer leading his own jazz combo during these days, recording an album with Impulse Records called Ain't No Ambulances for No Niggahs Tonight. In the 1970s, Crouch, deeply influenced by the works of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray, began to distance himself from the black nationalists. In 1975 he moved to New ...

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Jennifer H. Poulos

Lorenzo Thomas emerged from the Black Arts movement as one of the most prolific poets of the 1970s. Though best–known for his poetry, he also actively promotes the understanding and appreciation of all African American cultural forms, particularly music. Born in Panama to Herbert Hamilton Thomas and Luzmilda Gilling Thomas, Thomas immigrated to New York in 1948. As a native Spanish speaker, Thomas traces his interest in literature to his struggle to learn English in order to fit in with his schoolmates. While attending Queens College in the 1960s, Thomas joined the Umbra workshop, one of several experimental literary groups from which the Black Arts movement grew. Here, Thomas developed a poetic style marked by a wariness of the media and mass culture, pride in the African heritage and history, and a strong sense of political engagement. While Thomas also works powerfully in the lyric mode such ...