Interviewer Lauren Mikkelson.
From 1968 to 1972, the Black Artists' Group (BAG) thrived in the East St. Louis region. Featuring African American experimentalists in theater, visual arts, dance, poetry, and jazz, the avant-garde arts collective drew inspiration not only from the black cultural nationalism of the 1960s, which had spurred a much larger Black Arts Movement throughout the country, but also from John F. Kennedy's vision of a "The Great Society." Musicians in the group used all kinds of instruments that one could shake or beat.
Members included saxophonists Julius Hemphill (who taught at the Dunham Center), David Murray Oliver Lake, J. D. Parran, Hamiet Bluiett, and Luther Thomas; trumpeters Baikida Carroll and Floyd LeFlore; trombonist Joseph Bowie; drummers Bensid Thigpen and Charles "Bobo" Shaw; bassist Arzinia Richardson; playwrights/directors Malinke Robert Elliott, Vincent Terrell (who performed in East St. Louis with Katherine Dunham), and Muthal Naidoo; poets Ajule (Bruce) Rutlin, Eugene Redmond, and Shirley LeFlore; dancers Georgia Collins, Portia Hunt, and Luisah Teish; and painters Oliver Jackson and Emilio Cruz.
According to Eugene Redmond, the most lasting phenomenon to emerge from the World Saxophone Quartet, which Hemphill formed in 1976. BAG, faced obstacles, however, in part because the experimental music was difficult to dance to, and with integration, support for such initiatives became harder to find.