Legacy of the Black Pencraft: Crafting a New future of Published Muses.

Charlotte Spears Bass & Staff

Mindful of the fact that his antecedents is small in the world, the negro writer is more ardently inspired when he looks beyond the catches sight of golden fields into which no swathy hand has thrust a sickle. ~Professor W. J. Lewis “The Negro as a writer”

Since, Freedom’s Journal (1827) literary advancements in the black race has been numerous. Our Literary Letters have gone on to influence the world over. We create as we write and write as we walk through the fire. Our narratives extend beyond the ghastly shadows of fake musings from the media. Born with a literary lens our pens have danced in the flames for centuries. We write form the dross. In a continuous thought process, we add on to the narrative of freedom that will eventually carry us back from whence we started our journey. Dr. Rudolf Winsor author of “From Babylon to Timbuktu “A History of ancient black races including the black Hebrews”, gives us an incredible read as a supplementary piece to the entire body of African and Hebrew History. Outside of the research and phenomenal piece of truth that was presented, it was the actual documentation and writing of this incredible work that needs to be appreciated. Dr. Winsor didn’t die with this book trapped on the inside of his existence.  

The true narrative surrounding a book about “Timbuktu” was to somehow document our history in a way that leads to new discoveries and breakthroughs surrounding tons of research that is still left to do. It was a preview of the journey that is still in motion to this day. Like the Black Presses of the Late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries we need a narrative that speaks for our race. Although, the “Freedom’s Journal” (The first Black Newspaper) comes to mind we need a revolutionary way that helps to express our Pencraft in a greater light. Black Writers must now light the path and create entire communities around small-scale black thought. Their must be a navigational pull that forces the pen to its true north. So, what’s the true responsibility for a black writer? Community? To Build Institutions?

The responsibility that Black writers carry is a burden that must be endured collectively and not in isolation. There is no such thing as a black independent writer. Every word from the black Pencraft compounds collectively to form this “Great Black Migration” of ideas and thoughts. When you think in terms of migration with respect to the social, political, economic, housing, work and or religious constructs; the black press remains the central figure in transporting our thoughts and ideas into new territories. Steven A. Reich, Editor of The Great Black Migration “A Historical Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic”; explained that (migration led to the modernization and dramatic expansion of the black press, which ultimately become one of the most important institutions in African American life”). Is there not a correlation between our physical movement as a people and the Pencraft that documents those journeys?

Even now with thousands of Black Conscious, Black Power and Black Empowerment books that fill black bookstores, it’s just a fraction of what remains to be told. The protracted nature of our darkness makes it difficult for the artist to find his way in the midst of these chaotic changes. Who really feels like writing a book or researching history when bills are due, and all types of BS is swirling around in the mind that is limiting one’s creative development? If you are a writer, I am sure the “Starving Artist” tag comes into play and you have to write because you have sold out to your pencraft and write because you love to write. But, what about those who carry such a gift but haven’t truly had the impetus to dig deep enough to bring forth those hidden treasures?  

If there was an example of how to navigate these treacherous territories one should look no further than the master himself. A chameleon in disguise and a word made flesh for the black community. Master writer, novelist, poet and essayist James Baldwin was able to navigate this transition through a series of books, International travels, cigarettes, companionships, ideals, lectures, notes and thoughts that filled his world. A masterful representation of the pencraft legacy that is still evolving as we speak. On the outside looking in it’s important to understand the many experiences that has the potential to shape the genius of the black pencraft. James Baldwin writes in “Notes of a Native Son” in an Essay titled “Many Thousands gone” that “the negro story is yet to be told and which no American is prepared to hear” Why? Because the pen is mightier than the sword.

The Psychological ramifications of the African American story that has yet been told has made America as a whole a danger unto herself. As James Baldwin puts it “The story of the Negro in America is the story of America”. No longer can we isolate the America’s Sickness because we refuse to print our own narratives. I am not speaking of a regurgitation of what’s already history but these now moments that are beginning to awaken America towards fulfilling her destiny.  Although, we are good at collecting quotes, memes, facts and tons of historical documents that helps to elevate our rise, we still have a lot more work to go in order to cypher the depths of those experiences, and combine them to form a new way of communicating through our “MUSE”.

If the black man could escap a little deeper into thoughts he would see yesterday’s Sambucus waiting to be dissolved. As Natalie Goldberg puts it, we must “Write down the Bones and free the writer trapped within. A simple statement perhaps but a cold, lonely and congestive state awaits the man who dares to peel back the layers of eternity without a proper plan. Ink can become a decisive weapon if used correctly and to the victor goes the spoils. As Mr. Soyinka puts it “The threat to freedom is the absence of criticism” A Black man words needs criticism.

The progressive nature of our ideas must set a precedence for the next millenia. Our literary prowess must transition from the birthing stage into a more refined and intellectual sanctuary. Time has proven to be the greatest strength that we yield concerning the next phase of our literary development. I am seeing a shift in the way we relate to literature. Our Black Presses will hold more sway on the narrative concerning education in the black community in time to come. As Professor Lewis puts it “Genius is not the plant of any soil”. Thus, prescribing to the notion that genius is centuries in the making. A long and protracted glory of sentiments that occur over stages and cycles. Throughout, the history of social commentary a streamlined message has flowed in the wind. Those who have become masters of the pen have tapped into this endless stream of terminology. The facile pen of our black writers must wind of this notion and build narratives surrounding the forces that limit our advancement. Would the world not deny our literary antecedents as a form of independence?


    1. Thank you for the comment. Yes, once you embrace an idea that is sometimes foreign to the group conflict often ensues. Community is the new “Rich”. Thanks again for the comment and I will check out your blogs as well.


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