Frustrated by the slow pace of change and devastated by such losses as the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, some black activists questioned the ability of nonviolent civil disobedience to combat police brutality, poor living conditions, and economic inequality. In the second half of the 1960s, Black Power became the alternative to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. These later activists focused on self-love, cultural autonomy, and political empowerment.
The Black Power movement opened the door for the Black Arts Movement (BAM) to grow. Like playwright Amiri Baraka, the politically motivated artists of the BAM focused on reclaiming their African heritage, established community-based theaters, and sometimes embraced confrontation.