Amiri Baraka, famed African American literary giant, firebrand dies at 79

by Kwabena Opong

Amiri Baraka, a major African American writer described as a primary intellectual architect of the Black Arts movement of the 1960s died January 9 at a Newark hospital aged 79. Cause of death has not been reported but Prof. Baraka has been hospitalized in intensive care since December 2013.
Baraka closely identified with the Black Nationalist Movement and became a Marxist but remained what his critics describe as an unrepentant and polarizing symbol of radical indignation.
Prof. Baraka studied at the Rutgers University of New Jersey and Howard University at Washington, D.C. but never graduated with a degree ending up as a tenured professor at the State University of New York. He taught at several universities including George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and Yale University in New Haven, CT.
Amiri Baraka was born Everette LeRoi Jones Oct. 7, 1934, in Newark. His father worked for the post office, and his mother was a social worker.
He served in the Air Force, but found it an alienating experience, marked by racial prejudice and conformity to rules he could not abide.
By the mid-1950s, he landed in Greenwich Village, where he befriended poet Allen Ginsberg, a fellow Newark native, and other writers of the Beat Movement. He soon gained a following for his own poetry and writings on jazz. Some of his works include Dutchman.
Mr. Baraka’s survivors include his wife of 47 years, Sylvia Robinson, who later changed her name to Amina Baraka; two daughters from his first marriage and four children from his second, including Newark city council member Ras Baraka.
A funeral service has been planned at Newark’s Symphony Hall on January 18 at 10:00 a.m.

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Posted by on Jan 25 2014. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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