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The Los Angeles School

Ntongela Masilela


The historical achievements of the Los Angeles School were like no other intellectual and cultural movement in the history of African American culture in the twentieth-century, even though there are unique parallels with the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. The first observation to make is that the first major African American cultural movement of the past century, the Harlem Renaissance, was centrally concerned with literary matters. Whereas the last movement within the logic of modernity at the end of the century, the Los Angeles School, was wholly engaged with film matters. One immediate connection between the Harlem Renaissance and the Los Angeles School is that one of the members of the film constellation made a film adapted from a novel written by a member of the literary pleaid. Charles Burnett’s The Wedding (1998) was based on the work of Dorothy West of the same name. Earlier Haile Gerima had made the documentary film After Winter: Sterling Brown (1985), a tribute to a major poet who could be viewed as also a member of the Harlem Renaissance, depending on how one demarcates the historical parameters of this cultural movement. Such a discourse between the two movements located at the opposite poles of the century expressing themselves in different artistic forms of representation had not occurred before.

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Ijele: Art eJournal of the African World. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editor: Nkiru Nzegwu; Film Review Editor: Phyllis J. Jackson; Exhibition/Curator & Book Review Editor: Azuka Nzegwu

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