In his 1994 essay Black to the Future, cultural critic Mark Dery coined the term “Afrofuturism” and defined it as such: “Speculative fiction that treats African- American themes and addresses African- American concerns in the context of 20th century technoculture – and, more generally, African-American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future” (Dery 180).
While critics argue that Afrofuturism actually first came into the public consciousness during the early part of the 20th century through the works of African American writers such as Pauline Hopkins and George Schuyler, Afrofuturist music was pioneered by Sun Ra during the late 1950s. Influenced by jazz music, African culture, and the impending Space Age, Sun Ra’s music contained Afrocentric elements that would have a profound influence on black musicians, as well as writers and artists, for years to come. One such influence was George Clinton, a fellow musician who once said of Sun Ra, “this boy was definitely out to lunch – same place I eat” (Heron). Clinton was the mastermind behind the 1970s funk collective Parliament-Funkadelic, and his artistic vision included extensive elements of science fiction. Through the use of their heavily Afrofuturistic lyrics, album artwork, and extravagant stage show, George Clinton and Parliament- Funkadelic used their music to unify the black community. With this unity, they sought to elevate African Americans everywhere to a rightfully deserved equal status.
"Climbing Aboard the Mothership: An Afrofuturistic Reading of Parliament-Funkadelic,"
Occam's Razor: Vol. 3
, Article 6.
Available at: https://cedar.wwu.edu/orwwu/vol3/iss1/6