Rest In Power: Legendary Writer Amiri Baraka Dies At 79

(AllHipHop News) The world has lost one of the greatest wordsmiths its ever known. Controversial writer, poet laureate, professor and activist Amiri Baraka died yesterday (January 9th) after years of battling an undisclosed medical condition.

The 79 year old scholar had been was hospitalized in late December for an undisclosed illness.

Baraka was an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s and changed his named from his birth name Everett LeRoi Jones to Amiri Baraka following Malcolm X’s 1965 assassination. Baraka also founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre and School.

The Baraka-led Black Arts Movement of the 1960s produced such legendary African American artists as Gil Scott Heron, Nikki Giovanni and others. In 2007, he spoke on the purpose of the Black Arts Movement:

[W]e wrote art that was, number one, identifiably Afro American according to our roots and our history and so forth. Secondly, we made art that was not contained in small venues. The third thing we wanted was art that would help with the liberation of black people, and we didn’t think just writing a poem was sufficient. That poem had to have some kind of utilitarian use; it should help in liberating us. So that’s what we did. We consciously did that.

Baraka was also a polarizing figure whom attracted a considerable level of controversy for his poem “Somebody Blew Up America” about the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. The poem was released after Baraka’s 2002 induction as the second ever poet laureate for New Jersey and contained lines that were perceived as anti-semetic. Soon after the poem was released, the poet laureate position was removed.

Check out Baraka perform the controversial poem, “Somebody Blew Up America” below:

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  • dancehallgeographies

    Reblogged this on Dance hall and commented:
    Respect Due!

    It would be remiss of me not to pay tribute to someone who transformed my thinking and writing about the Black Atlantic and as part of it’s making, the Middle Passage experience. It was during his performance at that famous Calabash Literary Festival of 2005 when I first heard the famous lines:

    ‘Its my brother, my sister
    At the bottom of the Atlantic
    There’s a railroad made of human bones
    Black Ivory, Black Ivory.”

    Those words have stayed with me and at the time informed my writing on the connections in music and performance between Jamaica and South Africa as I was in the early stages if conceptualising my book DanceHall: From Slave Ship to Ghetto.

    Walk good! Leroi Jones. Amiri Baraka. Walk good until such time….

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