In Search of the Black Fantastic is the most authoritative work available on black culture in the post-Civil Rights era. Prior to the 1960s, when African Americans had little access to formal political power, popular culture functioned as a highly visible and important means of political expression. From Billie Holiday to Ralph Ellison, African American art was often explicitly political. Unexpectedly, though, despite the Civil Rights revolution of the 1960s that opened up the world of formal politics, black artists in film, literature, and music continue to have an outsized voice in black institutional politics. Marvin Gaye, George Clinton, Toni Morrison, Chuck D, Spike Lee, Tina Turner, Bill Jones, Lauren Hill, and many others speak to the power of this tradition. Richard Iton offers a comprehensive and novel portrait of this powerful and durable relationship, locating its modern roots in the Jazz Age and taking readers through the Hip Hop era.

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