Amiri Baraka: Lifelong Activist, Icon and Supporter of Million Man March Passes


We recognize the incredible legacy that Amiri Baraka, who died recently. He was not a member of the Nation of Islam, but a vocal advocate for the Muslim Program.

This March 12, 1972 file photo shows poet and social activist Amiri Baraka speaking during the Black Political Convention in Gary, Ind. Baraka, a Beat poet, black nationalist and Marxist revolutionary known for his blues-based, fist-shaking manifestos, died, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, N.J. at age 79. Photo/Julian C. Wilson (AP File Photo)

This March 12, 1972 file photo shows poet and social activist Amiri Baraka speaking during the Black Political Convention in Gary, Ind. Baraka, a Beat poet, black nationalist and Marxist revolutionary known for his blues-based, fist-shaking manifestos, died, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, N.J. at age 79. Photo/Julian C. Wilson (AP File Photo)

Much like the Nation of Islam leaders, the most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Baraka was either loved or hated.

He was denounced by critics as buffoonish, homophobic, anti-Semitic, a demagogue. He was called by others a genius, a prophet, the Malcolm X of literature. Eldridge Cleaver hailed him as the bard of the “funky facts.” Ishmael Reed credited the Black Arts Movement for encouraging artists of all backgrounds and enabling the rise of multiculturalism. The scholar Arnold Rampersad placed him alongside Frederick Douglass and Richard Wright in the pantheon of Black cultural influences.

For more info, read the Afro American.

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