The dramatist, novelist and poet, Amiri Baraka, one of the most respected and widely published African-American writers dies at age 79. With the beginning of Black Civil Rights Movements during the sixties, Baraka explored the anger of African-Americans and used his writings as a weapon against racism. Also, he advocated scientific socialism with his revolutionary inclined poems and aimed at creating aesthetic through them.
Amiri Baraka’s writing career spans over nearly fifty years and has mostly focused on the subjects of Black Liberation and White Racism. Today, a number of well known poems, short stories, plays and commentaries on society, music, and literature are associated with his name. A few of the famous ones include, ‘The Music: Reflection on Jazz and blues; ‘The Book of Monk’ and New Music, New Poetry’ among others.
The literary world respects the playwright and poet, Amiri Baraka as one of the revolutionary provocateurs of African-American poetry. He is counted among the few influential political activists who have spent most of their life time fighting for the rights of African-Americans.
Baraka, who had been hospitalized since last month, died Thursday at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Perhaps no writer of the 1960s and ’70s was more radical or polarizing than the former LeRoi Jones, and no one did more to extend the political debates of the civil rights era to the world of the arts. He inspired at least one generation of poets, playwrights and musicians, and his immersion in spoken word traditions and raw street language anticipated rap, hip-hop and slam poetry. The FBI feared him to the point of flattery, identifying Baraka as “the person who will probably emerge as the leader of the Pan-African movement in the United States.” Baraka transformed from the rare black to join the Beat caravan of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac to leader of the Black Arts Movement, an ally of the Black Power movement that rejected the liberal optimism of the early ’60s and intensified a divide over how and whether the black artist should take on social issues. Scorning art for art’s sake and the pursuit of black-white unity, Barak was part of a philosophy that called for the teaching of black art and history and producing works that bluntly called for revolution. “We want ‘poems that kill,'” Baraka wrote in his landmark “Black Art,” a manifesto published in 1965, the year he helped found the Black Arts Movement. “Assassin poems. Poems that shoot guns/Poems that wrestle cops into alleys/and take their weapons leaving them dead/with tongues pulled out and sent to Ireland.” He was as eclectic as he was prolific: His influences ranged from Ray Bradbury and Mao Zedong to Ginsberg and John Coltrane. Baraka wrote poems, short stories, novels, essays, plays, musical and cultural criticism and jazz operas. His 1963 book “Blues People” has been called the first major history of black music to be written by an African-American. A line from his poem “Black People!” — “Up against the wall mother f—–” — became a counterculture slogan for everyone from student protesters to the rock band Jefferson Airplane.