*National poet laureate Amanda Gorman graces TIME magazine’s special issue honoring Black culture and the arts, dubbed the second Black Renaissance.
The publication collaborated with author, educator, and activist Ibram X. Kendi to curate the project which features a conversation between Gorman and Michelle Obama.
“We’re living in an important moment in Black art because we’re living in an important moment in Black life,” Gorman said to Obama during their discussion. “Whether that’s looking at what it means politically to have an African-American President before Trump, or looking at what it means to have the Black Lives movement become the largest social movement in the United States.
“What’s been exciting for me is I get to absorb and to live in that creation I see from other African-American artists that I look up to. But then I also get to create art and participate in that historical record…. In all the forms of expression of human life, we’re seeing that artistry be informed by the Black experience. I can’t imagine anything more exciting than that,” she added.
Gorman made history as the youngest National poet laureate when she recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at the inauguration of President Joe Biden last month.
— TIME (@TIME) February 4, 2021
The project also includes a conversation between three of today’s most accomplished novelists—Brit Bennett, Jasmine Guillory and Jacqueline Woodson—who gather in a roundtable discussion with Rebecca Carroll about the difference between a renaissance and a trend as well as the power of their storytelling.
The Black Renaissance issue features contributions from celebrated Black artists including Ava DuVernay, Lynn Nottage, Jesmyn Ward, Brit Bennett, Jasmine Guillory, Jacqueline Woodson and more, and a moving essay from Chad Sanders about the hidden price of commodifying Black.
TIME editor in chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal writes in his letter to readers: “When historian, TIME 100 honoree and How to Be an Antiracist author Ibram X. Kendi approached TIME with the idea to partner on a project about marking this moment as a Black cultural renaissance, the most challenging question we faced was how to choose which of the innumerable artists and works—across poetry, film, television, music, theater and more—to highlight…. This renaissance features works that directly explore the quest for racial justice, as well as art that mines the everyday realities of moving through the world as a Black person—finding the comedy and drama in work, relationships and family.”
Kendi writes: “In this first Black History Month after the racial reckoning of 2020, I feel impelled to do what historians rarely do: mark history while the story is still being written…. We are living in the time of a new renaissance—what we are calling the Black Renaissance—the third great cultural revival of Black Americans, after the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, after the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Black creators today were nurtured by these past cultural revivals—and all those brilliant creators who sustained Black Arts during the 1980s and 1990s. But if the Harlem Renaissance stirred Black people to see themselves, if the Black Arts Movement stirred Black people to love themselves, then the Black Renaissance is stirring Black people to be themselves. Totally. Unapologetically. Freely.”
The special edition of TIME will go on sale Friday, February 5.