Amiri Baraka Dies


Amiri Baraka, the African American playwright and poet has died aged 79. Formerly known as LeRoi Jones, Baraka was at various times allied to America’s Black Nationalists and Marxist Leninist  ideologies – and was also involved with Ginsberg and The Beat Poets in the 1960s. His first play, Dutchman, catapulted him into the public eye – a story of a relationship between a black man and a white woman that debuted bang in the middle of the Civil Rights era in the US, in 1964. 

Baraka was derided by some as a homophobe and anti-semite, and lauded by others as the most articulate, powerful voice of the African-American struggle. With age, his views changed and the edges softened and he went on to teach at Yale and other American Universities.  

For a comprehensive overview of his life and career, check out the Poetry Foundation’s Bio.