Legenday poet Amiri Baraka died Thursday after weeks of failing health, a family spokeperson confirmed. He was 79.
Baraka led the Black Arts Movement, an aesthetic sibling to the Black Panthers. Although the movement was fractious and short-lived, it involved significant authors such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Eldridge Cleaver, Gil-Scott Heron, Nikki Giovanni, Ishmael Reed and Quincy Troupe.
"[W]e wrote art that was, number one, identifiably Afro American according to our roots and our history and so forth. Secondly, we made art that was not contained in small venues," Baraka said in a 2007 interview. "The third thing we wanted was art that would help with the liberation of black people, and we didn’t think just writing a poem was sufficient. That poem had to have some kind of utilitarian use; it should help in liberating us. So that’s what we did. We consciously did that."
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Six Things Amiri Baraka Wanted You To Know
"A man is either free or he is not. There cannot be any apprenticeship for freedom."
"To name something is to wait for it in the place you think it will pass."
"If the flag of an armed enemy of the U.S. is allowed to fly over government buildings, then it implies that slavery, or at least the threat of slavery, is sanctioned by that government and can still legally exist."
"Thought is more important than art. To revere art and have no understanding of the process that forces it into existence, is finally not even to understand what art is."
“A system that warehouses people is not the cure for social ills”
“There is no justice in America, but it is the fight for justice that sustains you”