Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)
Few artists have stirred up as much controversy as Amiri Baraka. Born Everett LeRoi Jones in Newark, NJ in 1934, and published in his early life under the name LeRoi Jones, the writer, poet, and playwright has published three plays, more than 10 books of poetry, and numerous nonfiction works of art criticism in his 50+ years as an artist. Baraka, while he never completed a degree, was educated at Howard University, Rutgers, Columbia University and the New School. Baraka was a key figure in New York City during the Black Arts Movement, and was well-known as a jazz poet and Black nationalist. Baraka was the poet laureate of New Jersey for a year in 2002-2003, and was mired in controversy for his poem “Somebody Blew Up America.” During the ’60s and ’70s, Baraka’s play “The Dutchman” received significant attention as an early form of Black nationalist theatre. Throughout his life, Baraka has remained unapologetic for his commitment to Black nationalist, Marxist, and other radical political traditions, and has consistently committed his own art to political activism.
–written by Lydia Kelow-Bennett
Image Source (Top): - Snally Gaster's African American Phat Library - Unknown