Amiri Baraka (Muslim name meaning peace/blessed one) Presented by: Samantha B. Zac C. Dana W.
Baraka was born in new Jersey in 1934
He was named at birth Everett LeRoi Jones but in 1967 he adopted the African American name Immamu Amear Baraka that later changed to Amiri.
He never got a college degree although he did attend, study philosophy, and religion at Rutgers University, Columbia University and Howard University.
Military Career In 1954 he joined the Air force and reached sergeant rank. But he wrote an anonymous letter to his commanding officer accusing him of being Communist led and was put on kitchen duty and given a dishonorable discharge for violation of his duties.
Family Life and getting started as a writer 1958-1963 he was joint editor, with his then wife, Hettie Jones, of the literary magazine entitled Yugen. He went to Cuba in 1960; this is what made him become a politically active artist. Writings1961 – Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note 1963 – Blues People: Negro Music in White America 1964 – Dutchman The 1963 writing is still the most influential volumes of Jazz criticism.
His Life Baraka moved to Harlem, leaving his wife and 2 children behind. He considered himself a black cultural nationalist. 1966 he married his second wife Sylvia Robinson 1967: he became a lecturer at San Francisco State University. 1968: He was falsely arrested for carrying an illegal weapon and resisting arrests during riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison but the Appeals Court reversed it.
Timeline 1968 – His second book of Jazz Criticism Black Music came out 1960’s – 1970’s Baraka caused controversy by writing some strongly Anti-Jewish poems and articles. It was similar to the Nation of Islam at the time. 1974 – He became a Marxist and a supporter of Anti-imperialist 1980 – he became an anti-Zionist 1987 – he became a professor at Rutgers University.
Tragedy and Controversy In 2003, his daughter at age 31 was murdered in her sister’s home. Baraka has generated a lot of controversy over the years because of his advocacy of rape, and violence towards women, gay people, white people and Jews.
Controversy Critics of his work described it as having vernacular expressions of Black oppression to examples of racism, sexism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism that they found in his work. He wrote a poem about the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center and was criticized for the accusations it made on public people. He was renowned as the founder of Black Arts Movement (came about after Malcolm X assassination) in Harlem in the 1960’s.
Today He live in New Jersey with his wife now and they have 5 children. This is the link to the 9-11 poem that caused so much controversy: http://www.amiribaraka.com/blew.html
Facts about the Play Last play under his birth name LeRoi Jones He was in the process of becoming a black nationalist The play won an Obie Award
Summary of Dutchman Takes place on a subway train Lula is a flirty woman who is trying to seduce Clay with sexual actions Lula is a young white women and Clay is a young black man She tries to convince Clay that he is not really black because he is college educated, wears a three button suit and his “grandfather was not a slave.” The nasty she refers to is rub bellies like her own signature sexual move Lula murders Clay after he gets up angry and tells her that white people don’t know him At the end of the play she approaches another well dressed black man the same way.
Questions What does his name “Amiri Baraka” mean? What is the most influential volume of Jazz criticism still today? During what time was Amiri renowned as the founder of the Black Arts Movement in Harlem?