'Poets of Action': The Saint Louis Black Artists' Group, 1968-1972 (Part 3-4)
For a short time, wrote participant J.D. Parran, the St. Louis black collective "formed and flourished, then disappeared from its urban community setting. But for a few years, productive years, it nurtured and gave voice to the burning creative impetus at large in that city and the nation." While St. Louisans still on occasion run across former BAG members in performances around town, it is odd that BAG has not been the subject of more extensive scholarship or attention in the popular press. As former U.S. Congressman William Clay has noted in his introduction to Discovering African- American St. Louis, "The role played by black Americans in the history of our country has been ignored, distorted, and downplayed ... by those who write the textbooks and ... by the so-called master historians." The Black Artists' Group provides one of St. Louis's most important links to the emergent Black Arts Movement of the late '60s and early '70s; by joining together social concern and artistic innovation, the BAG school, the multimedia performances, and the group's social agenda significantly reshaped the St. Louis arts landscape. The astonishing artistic richness of the Black Artists' Group deserves to emerge into full view as a unique and engaging effort to discover an artistic voice adequate to the social and cultural dislocations of its time.