Amiri Baraka was born Everett LeRoi Jones in 1934 in Newark, NJ. Baraka is a well known African-American writer of fiction, drama, poetry and music. With books such as Tales of the Out and the Gone, he has received the PEN Open Book Award and is also respected as one of the most widely published African American authors of his generation. Apart from writing, Baraka is considered as a revolutionary political activist and has given lectures on various political and cultural issues extensively throughout Europe, Africa, USA and the Caribbean. He is recognized with a long list of awards and honors that includes the James Weldon Johnson Medal for contributions to the arts, the American Academy of Arts & Letters award, the Poet Laureate of New Jersey and Professor Emeritus at the State university of New York at Stony Brook. He is a prominent figure in the literary world and is included in scholar Molefi Kete Asante’s list of 100 Greatest African Americans.
“The tasks of humans—-and I don’t know that the Earth is ready for them yet, we’re struggling to make the Earth habitable for human beings. You understand that, can you understand that? Because anybody who thinks that only a few people have the right to live, something to eat, you know, so forth. When this world is full of infinitely more than you could ever use or even conceive of what exists.”
–Lecture at Naropa University, Summer Writing Program, July 7, 2000.
From the founding of the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University in 1974, Amiri Baraka has been a true friend, close to the founders, Allen Ginsberg, Diane di Prima, and Anne Waldman. He always brought his provocative, fiery spirit, his intelligence, and his unique aural and vibratory poetry to this community over many years. He is part of making a better world through cultural revolution and uncompromising humanity. We offer our deep condolences to his family and community in Newark, and to his friends and colleagues around the world. May his spirit continue to wake people up to their most creative and profound natures. –Anne Waldman, Jan. 9, 2014