Amiri Baraka is an African American poet, activist, and academic. He was an influential black nationalist, then became a Marxist.
Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones) was born in Newark, New Jersey, on October 7, 1934. After three years in the United States Air Force, Jones joined the Beat movement in Greenwich Village. After the assassination of Malcolm X, he took the name of Amiri Barak and became involved in scenes of black nationalist poetry and literature. He later identified as a Marxist. Baraka died on January 9, 2014, at the age of 79.
Amiri Baraka was born Everett LeRoi Jones on October 7, 1934, in Newark, New Jersey. After developing an interest in poetry and jazz in high school, Baraka attended Howard University, where he changed his name to LeRoi James. He graduated in English in 1954, then joined the United States Air Force. After three years of service, Baraka was unjustly dismissed for possession of inappropriate texts.
Baraka then moved to Manhattan, where, in addition to attending Columbia University and the New School, he became a prominent artist on the scene in Greenwich Village and became friends with the poets of Beat. Such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. He published his work and the work of other poets in the new Totem Press. In 1961 Baraka published his first significant collection of poetry, Preface to twenty volumes of suicide Note. His 1964 work in the Netherlands, dealing with racial tension and the repressed hostility of black Americans to whites, earned him praise and praise.
After a trip to Cuba, Baraka joined the apolitical Beat movement in favor of the racial policy. The murder of Malcolm X was a turning point in his life. He then rejected his old life, including his marriage to Hettie Cohen, and changed his name to Amiri Baraka. He became a black nationalist, moved to Harlem, and founded the Black Arts Repertory Theater / School. However, the business dissolved after a few months, and Bakara returned to Newark and founded Spirit House Players. Baraka completely immersed himself in Newark, becoming the leader of the city’s African-American community.
In 1968 Baraka became a Muslim and added the name prefix to the Imam, which means “spiritual leader.” In 1974, however, he rejected the designation, identifying himself as a Marxist.
Late-life and Death
Baraka is known for his aggressive and inflammatory style. His writing is controversial and often polarizes readers. His song “Someone Stole the United States,” suggesting that Israel and American leaders knew about the September 11 attacks before they happened, has been condemned as anti-Semitic. Following a public protest against the poem, Baraka was dismissed from his post as an award-winning poet in New Jersey.
Baraka, a prolific writer, has written over 50 books, including fiction, music criticism, essays, stories, poetry, and plays. In 1984, he published the Autobiography of LeRoi Jones / Amiri Baraka. Amiri Baraka has taught at many universities, including the New School for Social Research, San Francisco State University, and Yale University. Before his retirement, he was a professor of African studies at New York State University in Stony Brook for 20 years.
Baraka died on January 9, 2014, in Newark, New Jersey, at the age of 79. He is survived by his wife Amiri Barak, two daughters from their first marriage, and four children from their second.