Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


African American Studies


Herbert G. Ruffin


Black Arts Movement, Black Syracuse, Childress, Conscious Theater, Identity, Life Histories

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences



This thesis uses a multi-sited ethnographic methodology based on interviews conducted in Syracuse, New York to examine the multiracial identity and living conditions of persons of African descent. The theorization in this project utilizes the Black Arts Movement and African Conscious theater frameworks to create an analytical play in which the black community becomes aware of itself through artistic expression that centers on what Larry Neal once described as the &;#8220;black aesthetic.&;#8221; Moreover, it examines identity within the black community &;#8211;identity that is not the product of mainstream societal conceptions of race and color, but is the result of personal experiences and familial circles. At the center of my thesis are black people in Syracuse, whose population has increased dramatically over the past 65 years (since 1950), creating a more diverse cultural environment. Syracuse is a racially tense environment and examination of the constraints placed upon Black Syracusans can play a role in easing the tensions. Included in this equation are African Americans effectively addressing their constraints and becoming self-actualized and self-determined people. At the center of this process is the theatrical play &;#8220;Meeting at Mom&;#8217;s,&;#8221; which is designed to give the black people interviewed a voice for a larger discussion of issues that are important to them and to the Syracuse public.


Open Access