Amiri Baraka

A figure of both praise and controversy, Amiri Baraka was a renowned activist and writer of poetry, drama, and essays. He was born Everett LeRoi Jones in Newark, New Jersey on October 7, 1934. He was an avid ... Read more »

Born: 10/06/1934 in Newark, New Jersey, USA

Filmography

Actor (28)

Breaking the Rules 2014 (Movie)

(Actor)

Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder 2013 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Obscene 2008 (Movie)

(Actor)

Chisholm '72: Unbought & Unbossed 2004 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Ralph Ellison: An American Journey 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry 2001 - 2002 (Tv Show)

Actor

Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Pinero 2001 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Ralph Ellison: An American Journey 2001 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Fooling With Words With Bill Moyers 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Sounds of Poetry With Bill Moyers 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

The Source 1999 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Bulworth 1998 (Movie)

Rastaman (Actor)

The Story of Gospel Music 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

W.E.B. Du Bois -- A Biography in Four Voices 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Narrator

Richard Wright: Black Boy 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

The United States of Poetry 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

America's War on Poverty 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg 1994 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Newark: The Slow Road Back 1987 (Movie)

(Actor)

Voices on the Water 1986 (Movie)

Writer (Actor)

Poetry in Motion 1981 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

One American Movie/1 A.M. 1970 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)
Writer (3)

The Gaming Table 1992 (Movie)

("The Dutchman") (Play as Source Material)

A Fable 1970 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Dutchman 1967 (Movie)

(Play as Source Material)

Biography

A figure of both praise and controversy, Amiri Baraka was a renowned activist and writer of poetry, drama, and essays. He was born Everett LeRoi Jones in Newark, New Jersey on October 7, 1934. He was an avid academic, having enrolled in Rutgers University, Howard University, Columbia University, and New School for Social Research. Although he never completed his studies to earn a degree, his literary and sociological studies nonetheless influenced his beliefs and his work. Baraka was active in the Civil Rights movement and penned several essays and plays about race relations, such as the polarizing play "Dutchman" (1964) in which a white woman harasses a black man in a subway station. His attitudes often reflected an absolutist and militaristic view, especially after the assassination of Malcolm X. In 1967, he embraced the Africa-centric view of Kawaida and adopted the name Imamu Amear Baraka, later changed to Amiri. He continued to write thought-provoking essays as well as teach in higher education. He lectured at San Francisco State University, served as a visiting professor at Columbia University, and became a full-fledged professor at Rutgers University in 1984. In July 2002, New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey appointed Baraka as the state's second Poet Laureate, a distinguished position created in 1999 in order to promote and encourage poetry throughout the state. However, Baraka's brief tenure as the Poet Laureate of New Jersey was quickly mired in controversy. On the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Baraka publically read an inflammatory poem titled "Somebody Blew Up America?" during the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, in which he espoused several conspiracy theories that implied the state of Israel was complicit in the attacks. The ensuing public and media backlash called for his resignation, but Baraka stubbornly refused to step down. Without any legal recourse to force Baraka from the position as Poet Laureate, Governor McGreevey abolished the position in July 2003. In his later years, Baraka had a long struggle with diabetes and was placed in the intensive care unit at the Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, NJ in early December 2013. Deteriorating health and apparent complications from a recent surgery finally took their toll when Baraka passed away on January 9, 2014.

EDUCATION

Rutgers University

Howard University

Columbia University

The New School for Social Research

Milestones

2008

Awarded the PEN Open Book Award

2002

Served as the second Poet Laureate of New Jersey

2002

Gave public reading of his controversial poem, "Somebody Blew Up America?"

1984

Became a full-time professor at Rutgers Univeristy

Bonus Trivia

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"A man is either free or he is not. There cannot be any apprenticeship for freedom." - from Home: Social Essays

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