Radiant and Radical: 20 Years of Defining the Soul of Black Art

It will be a happy day when racial harmony rules in this land. But that day’s not coming any time soon. Who could have guessed in the 1960s, when civil rights became law, that a new century would bring white supremacy tiki torching out of the closet and turn the idea that black lives matter, so beyond obvious, into a desperate battle cry?

Actually, African-Americans could have seen such things coming. No citizens know the national narrative, and its implacable racism, better than they do. And no artists have responded to that history-that-won’t-go-away more powerfully than black artists. More than 60 of them appear in the traveling show called “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” now at the Brooklyn Museum, in a display filling two floors of special exhibition space with…

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