Thursday, October 18, 2012

Amiri Bakara Resigned Controversial Poem

Amiri Bakara Resigned Controversial Poem,  His father, Coyt Leverette Jones, worked as a postal supervisor and lift operator. His mother, Anna Lois (née Russ), was a social worker. In 1967, he adopted the African name Imamu Amear Baraka, which he later changed to Amiri Baraka.

He won a scholarship to Rutgers University in 1951, but a continuing sense of cultural dislocation prompted him to transfer in 1952 to Howard University, which he left without obtaining a degree. His major fields of study were philosophy and religion. Baraka subsequently studied at Columbia University and the New School for Social Research without obtaining a degree.

In 1954, he joined the US Air Force as a gunner, reaching the rank of sergeant. After an anonymous letter to his commanding officer accusing him of being a communist led to the discovery of Soviet writings, Baraka was put on gardening duty and given a dishonorable discharge for violation of his oath of duty.

The same year, he moved to Greenwich Village working initially in a warehouse for music records. His interest in jazz began during this period. At the same time he came into contact with avant-garde Beat Generation, Black Mountain College and New York School poets. In 1958 he married Hettie Cohen and founded Totem Press, which published such Beat icons as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Their literary magazine Yugen lasted for eight issues (1958–62).[2] Baraka also worked as editor and critic for Kulchur (1960–65). With Diane DiPrima he edited the first twenty-five issues (1961–63) of their little magazine Floating Bear.

Baraka visited Cuba in July 1960 with a Fair Play for Cuba Committee delegation and reported his impressions in his essay Cuba libre. In 1961 Baraka co-authored a Declaration of Conscience in support of Fidel Castro's regime. Baraka also was a member of the Umbra Poets Workshop of emerging Black Nationalist writers (Ishmael Reed, Lorenzo Thomas and many others) on the Lower East Side (1962–65). He had begun to be a politically active artist. In 1961 a first book of poems, Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note, was published, followed in 1963 by Blues People: Negro Music in White America — to this day one of the most influential volumes of jazz criticism, especially in regard to the then beginning free jazz movement. His acclaimed controversial play Dutchman premiered in 1964 and received an Obie Award the same year.

After the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, Baraka left his wife and their two children and moved to Harlem. Now a "black cultural nationalist," he broke away from the predominantly white Beats and became very critical of the pacifist and integrationist Civil Rights movement. His revolutionary poetry now became more controversial.

A poem like “Black Art” (1969), according to academic Werner Sollors from Harvard University, expressed his need to commit the violence required to “establish a Black World.” Rather than use poetry as an escapist mechanism, Baraka saw poetry as a weapon of action. His poetry demanded violence against those he felt were responsible for an unjust society. In 1966, Baraka married his second wife, Sylvia Robinson, who later adopted the name Amina Baraka. In 1967, he lectured at San Francisco State University. The year after, he was arrested in Newark for having allegedly carried an illegal weapon and resisting arrest during the 1967 Newark riots, and was subsequently sentenced to three years in prison.

Shortly afterward an appeals court reversed the sentence based on his defense by attorney, Raymond A. Brown. That same year his second book of jazz criticism, Black Music, came out, a collection of previously published music journalism, including the seminal Apple Cores columns from Down Beat magazine.

Not long after the 1967 riots, Baraka generated controversy when he went on the radio with a Newark police captain and racist vigilante Anthony Imperiale—the three of them blamed the riots on "white-led, so-called radical groups" and "Communists and the Trotskyite persons." In 1970 he strongly supported Kenneth A. Gibson's candidacy for mayor of Newark; Gibson was elected the city's first Afro-American Mayor. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Baraka courted controversy by penning some strongly anti-Jewish poems and articles, similar to the stance at that time of the Nation of Islam.

Around 1974, Baraka distanced himself from Black nationalism and became a Marxist and a supporter of third-world liberation movements. In 1979 he became a lecturer in Stony Brook University's Africana Studies Department. The same year, after altercations with his wife, he was sentenced to a short period of compulsory community service. Around this time he began writing his autobiography. In 1980 he denounced his former anti-semitic utterances, declaring himself an anti-zionist.

During the 1982-83 academic year, Baraka was a visiting professor at Columbia University, where he taught a course entitled "Black Women and Their Fictions." In 1984 he became a full professor at Rutgers University, but was subsequently denied tenure.

In 1985, Baraka returned to Stony Brook, where he is currently professor emeritus of Africana Studies. In 1987, together with Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison, he was a speaker at the commemoration ceremony for James Baldwin. In 1989 Baraka won an American Book Award for his works as well as a Langston Hughes Award. In 1990 he co-authored the autobiography of Quincy Jones, and 1998 was a supporting actor in Warren Beatty's film Bulworth. In 1996, Baraka contributed to the AIDS benefit album Offbeat: A Red Hot Soundtrip produced by the Red Hot Organization.
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Baraka collaborated with hip hop group The Roots on the song "Something in the Way of Things (In Town)" on their 2002 album Phrenology. In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante included Amiri Baraka on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.

In 2003, Baraka's daughter Shani, age 31, and her lesbian partner, Rayshon Homes, were murdered in the home of Shani's sister, Wanda Wilson Pasha, by Pasha's ex-husband, James Coleman. Prosecutors argued that Coleman shot Shani because she had helped her sister separate from her husband. A New Jersey jury found Coleman (also known as Ibn El-Amin Pasha) guilty of murdering Shani Baraka and Rayshon Holmes, and sentenced him to 168 years in prison for the 2003 shooting.
Title: Amiri Bakara Resigned Controversial Poem
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