In 1987, the same year that Blacks was published with Third World Press, Brooks wrote “The Good Man: For Haki. In the time of detachment, in the time of cold.” By this time, the Black Arts Movement was long gone, and the Civil Rights Movement had been replaced by the greed and materialism of the 80’s. Younger generations simply benefited from the struggle of the forefathers, but there was no movement to change. This is the period of “detachment and cold” that Brooks speaks of. In what appears to be an effort to encourage and applaud Haki’s efforts to unify black people, Brooks writes about him, who she calls “The Good Man.” She uses strong, masculine language, and paints the picture of a man whose expectations of his people are high, and who has little tolerance for ignorance, and possesses the answers to save a flailing race. He is a “renouncer” of the black person who is unaware of their blackness, and she implores him to continue to “reprove” the race. Using imagery of blood with words like “heather,” and “blue” she echoes her belief that Madhubuti was an important and honorable leader for black people as a race, likening him to Christ. Her view of her “cultural son,” is in stark contrast to the views she expresses of her own son, in her dedication to him in Report from Part Two. Here, she gives what she calls the “Portrait Pre-Eminent” of Henry Blakely III, which consists primarily of a cute, albeit demeaning story of him as a little boy, getting in trouble for taking tulips from their neighbors’ yards, to give to his mother. The account ends with him “standing in a corner with his face to the wall, and his hands folded neatly behind him” (Brooks, 165). It is unclear how or why their relationship became so distant, or perhaps even strained, but if she regarded him as a little boy rather than an adult man, it is clear that there was a sort of disconnect between the two.
In the introduction to Jump Bad: A New Chicago Anthology, Brooks refers to Don Lee as “the most significant, inventive, and influential black poet in this country” (11). That was in 1971, when she was in a time of transition, and still separated from her husband. She also suffered a minor heart attack that year, and made the pilgrimage to Africa (Hill, 112).
Haki articulates his philosophy about the role of the black writer or poet which Brooks adopted in her own work “Here we can see clearly that art for art’s sake is something out of a European dream, and does not exist, in most cases, in reference to the black poet” (Brooks, 38). “Thus the people reflect the art and the art is the people. This must be understood: the interaction between the writer and his people combined with the interaction between the writer and himself are essential to the black aesthetic.”
Gwendolyn Brooks. Blacks. Third World Press, 1987. Print.
—Jump Bad: A New Chicago Anthology. Broadside Press 1971-1983. Print.
— Report From Part Two. Third World Press, 1996. Print.
Hill, Christine M. Gwendolyn Brooks: “Poetry Is Life Distilled” Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow, 2005. Print.