Case Histories: Amiri Baraka
Born as LeRoi Jones, Amiri Baraka is an American poet, essayist, fiction author, and music critic. Following the assassination of Malcom X, Baraka became a “black cultural nationalist”and wrote his revolutionary poem, “Black Art” (1969). Baraka saw poetry as a weapon for action, and called for society to fix its injustices. “Black Art,” among several other pieces, became the center of controversy for encouraging violence against white Americans, and for vulgar language.
In July of 1967, Baraka was arrested in New Jersey during the Newark riots, for allegedly carrying illegal weapons. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but released early after a successful appeal.
In 1974, Baraka moved away from Black Nationalism and aligned with Marxist and third-world liberation movements. He has since taught at several universities including Columbia University, SUNY Buffalo, and SUNY Stony Brook.