The Black Book


The Black Book is an anthology of photographs, newspaper clippings, quotations, sheet music, patent applications, advertisements, and other ephemera, which together form a picture of Black life in America. The volume, assembled by Middleton A. Harris under the editorial eye of Toni Morrison—whose uncredited poem appears on the back jacket—is unflinching in its documentation of slavery, racially motivated violence, and the perpetuation of negative stereotypes. Saar was in the midst of her own reclamation of racist imagery when the book was published, having produced The Liberation of Aunt Jemima two years earlier. In A Call to Arms, Saar stenciled the Langston Hughes excerpt seen here onto a vintage washboard, where it joins other imagery to create a narrative of Black liberation.

Betye Saar
Middleton A. Harris (1908–1977)
The Black Book
First edition
New York: Random House, 1974

Audio: New York Public Library