66 Facts About Amiri Baraka


Amiri Baraka was the author of numerous books of poetry and taught at several universities, including the University at Buffalo and Stony Brook University.


Amiri Baraka's career spanned nearly 52 years, and his themes range from black liberation to white racism.


Amiri Baraka was born in Newark, New Jersey, where he attended Barringer High School.


Amiri Baraka's mother Anna Lois was a social worker.


Jazz was something Amiri Baraka became interested in as a kid.


Amiri Baraka won a scholarship to Rutgers University in 1951 but transferred in 1952 to Howard University.


Amiri Baraka subsequently studied at Columbia University and The New School without taking a degree.


Amiri Baraka's commanding officer received an anonymous letter accusing Baraka of being a communist.


Amiri Baraka later described his experience in the military as "racist, degrading, and intellectually paralyzing".


Amiri Baraka worked as editor and critic for the literary and arts journal Kulchur.


Amiri Baraka had an extramarital affair with di Prima for several years; their daughter, Dominique di Prima, was born in June 1962.


Amiri Baraka visited Cuba in July 1960 with a Fair Play for Cuba Committee delegation and reported his impressions in his essay "Cuba Libre".


In 1961 Amiri Baraka co-authored a "Declaration of Conscience" in support of Fidel Castro's regime.


Amiri Baraka was a member of the Umbra Poets Workshop of emerging Black Nationalist writers on the Lower East Side.


Amiri Baraka stated in the same work that as an element of American culture, the Negro was entirely misunderstood by Americans.


Amiri Baraka felt that America only made room for white obfuscators, not black ones.


In 1963 Amiri Baraka published Blues People: Negro Music in White America, his account of the development of black music from slavery to contemporary jazz.


Amiri Baraka wrote an acclaimed, controversial play titled Dutchman, in which a white woman accosts a black man on the New York City Subway.


In December 1965 Amiri Baraka moved back to Newark after allegations surfaced that he was using federal antipoverty welfare funds for his theater.


Amiri Baraka became a leading advocate and theorist for the burgeoning black art during this time.


Rather than use poetry as an escapist mechanism, Amiri Baraka saw poetry as a weapon of action.


Amiri Baraka promoted theatre as a training for the "real revolution" yet to come, with the arts being a way to forecast the future as he saw it.


Amiri Baraka's decision to leave Greenwich Village in 1965 was an outgrowth of his response to the debate about the future of black liberation.


In 1966, Amiri Baraka married his second wife, Sylvia Robinson, who later adopted the name Amina Amiri Baraka.


Amiri Baraka was sentenced to three years in prison.


Amiri Baraka later joked that he was charged with holding "two revolvers and two poems".


Not long after the 1967 riots, Amiri Baraka generated controversy when he went on the radio with a Newark police captain and Anthony Imperiale, a politician and private business owner, and the three of them blamed the riots on "white-led, so-called radical groups" and "Communists and the Trotskyite persons".


In 1967, Amiri Baraka visited Maulana Karenga in Los Angeles and became an advocate of his philosophy of Kawaida, a multifaceted, categorized activist philosophy that produced the "Nguzo Saba", Kwanzaa, and an emphasis on African names.


For example, in one well-known poem, Black Arts [originally published in The Liberator January 1966], Amiri Baraka made offhand remarks about several groups, commenting in the violent rhetoric that was often typical of him, that ideal poems would 'knockoff.


Amiri Baraka believed that the groundbreakers in the Black Arts Movement were doing something that was new, needed, useful, and black, and those who did not want to see a promotion of black expression were "appointed" to the scene to damage the movement.


In 1974, Amiri Baraka distanced himself from Black nationalism, embracing Marxism-Leninism in the context of Maoist third-world liberation movements.


Articles about Amiri Baraka appeared in the University's print media from Stony Brook Press, Blackworld, and other student campus publications.


Shortly thereafter, Amiri Baraka took a tenure-track assistant professorship at Stony Brook in 1980 to assist "the struggling Africana Studies Department"; in 1983, he was promoted to associate professor and earned tenure.


In June 1979 Amiri Baraka was arrested and jailed at Eighth Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.


Amiri Baraka was released after a day in custody pending his appeal.


The judge noted that having Amiri Baraka serve his 90 days on weekends would allow him to continue his teaching obligations at Stony Brook.


Rather than serve his sentence at the prison, Amiri Baraka was allowed to serve his 48 consecutive weekends in a Harlem halfway house.


In 1980 Amiri Baraka published an essay in the Village Voice that was titled Confessions of a Former Anti-Semite.


Amiri Baraka insisted that a Village Voice editor titled it and not himself.


The poem Amiri Baraka referenced was "For Tom Postell, Dead Black Poet", which contained lines including.


Amiri Baraka would go on to collectively liken the committee to an "Ivy League Goebbels" while characterizing the senior faculty as "powerful Klansmen", leading to a condemnation from department chair Barry Qualls.


Thereafter, Amiri Baraka was nominally affiliated with Stony Brook as professor emeritus of Africana Studies until his death.


In 1989 Amiri Baraka won an American Book Award for his works as well as a Langston Hughes Award.


In 1996, Amiri Baraka contributed to the AIDS benefit album Offbeat: A Red Hot Soundtrip produced by the Red Hot Organization.


In July 2002, Amiri Baraka was named Poet Laureate of New Jersey by Governor Jim McGreevey.


Amiri Baraka held the post for a year, during which time he was mired in controversy, including substantial political pressure and public outrage demanding his resignation.


Amiri Baraka collaborated with hip-hop group The Roots on the song "Something in the Way of Things " on their 2002 album Phrenology.


Ras J Baraka became Mayor of Newark on July 1,2014.


Amiri Baraka died on January 9,2014, at Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey, after being hospitalized in the facility's intensive care unit for one month before his death.


The cause of death was not reported initially, but it is mentioned that Amiri Baraka had a long struggle with diabetes.


Amiri Baraka's funeral was held at Newark Symphony Hall on January 18,2014.


Amiri Baraka's work has been criticized for being racist, homophobic, antisemitic and misogynist among others.


Amiri Baraka viewed blacks as morally superior than whites, who he believed are innately evil.


Amiri Baraka wrote of Jesus as a "fag" and as "the dead jew" who, Baraka argues, was a Jewish scam on Christians.


In 1980 Amiri Baraka published an essay in the Village Voice that was titled Confessions of a Former Anti-Semite.


Amiri Baraka insisted that a Village Voice editor titled it and not himself.


Amiri Baraka himself denied that the poem is antisemitic due to the use of word Israeli rather than Jewish.


The ADL noted that the "4000 workers" conspiracy theory initially referred to Jews writ large and that Amiri Baraka was using a common antisemitic tactic of replacing references to Jews writ large with references to Israel and then claiming a comment is merely anti-Zionist.


Amiri Baraka ceased being poet laureate when the law became effective.


Amiri Baraka served as the second Poet Laureate of New Jersey from July 2002 until the position was abolished on July 2,2003.


Amiri Baraka received honors from a number of prestigious foundations, including the following: fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Langston Hughes Award from the City College of New York, the Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama, an induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Before Columbus Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.


Amiri Baraka's co-founding of the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s promoted a uniquely black nationalist perspective and influenced an entire literary generation.


Critic Naila Keleta-Mae argues that Amiri Baraka's legacy is one of "saying the unsayable", a course that likely damaged his own literary reputation and canonization.


For example, Amiri Baraka was left out of the 2013 anthology Angles of Ascent, a collection of contemporary African American poetry published by Norton.


When discussing his influence in an interview with NPR, Amiri Baraka stressed that he had influenced numerous people.


Amiri Baraka's influence extends to the publishing world, where some writers credit him with opening doors to white publishing houses which African American writers previously had been unable to access.