Amiri Baraka was born on October 7, 1934, in Newark, New Jersey. His original name was not Amiri Baraka, his birth name was Everett LeRoi Jones. He originally wrote under the name LeRoi Jones His name got changed to Amiri Baraka when he converted to Islam, it then first became Imamu Amiri Baraka then he altered it. He had studied at Rutgers, Columbia, and at Howard University. He never got a degree. During his life, he served 3 years in the U.S Air Force as a gunner. He, later on, he continued his studies at Columbia University. When he got older he taught a number of Universities, including the State University of New York at Buffalo.
In 1956, when Baraka was only twenty years old he started his career as a writer, an activist, and an advocate of black culture and political power. In 1958 he founded the Totem Press. When he was in Harlem he established the Black Arts Repertory Theatre.
During Baraka’s career as a writer, he had many works. First, he started out as a play writer. His first work was called “A Good Girl Is Hard To Find”, which came out in 1958. In the year 1964 Amiri had 4 more plays produced: “The Baptism”, “The Toilet”, “The Slave” and “The Dutchman”. The play The Dutchman received the Off-Broadway award for the best American play of 1963-64. It was made into a movie in 1966, Anthony Harvey directed it, and starring was Shirley Knight, Al Freeman JR.
Other plays that Baraka wrote was, in 1965 he wrote “Experimental Death Unit #1” and “Jello”. In 1966 “Black Mass” was written. In 1967 he wrote “Great Goodness of Life”, “Madheart”, “Arm Yourself of Harm Yourself”, “Black Spring”, “Slave Ship”. In 1968 “Home on the Range” and “Police” was written. In 1969 “the Death of Malcolm X”, “Four Black Revolutionary Plays” and “Insurrection” was written. In 1970 he wrote, “Dloodrites and Juniies are full of shit”. In 1971 he wrote “A Fable”. In 1972 he wrote “Ba-Ra-Ka”. In 1973 he wrote “Columbia, The Gem of the Ocean” and “A most recent killing” In 1974 “The New Ark’s Moverin” was written. In 1975 “The Sidnee Poet” was written. In 1976 he wrote “S-I”. In 1977 he wrote “The Motion Of History”. In 1979 he wrote, “What was the relationship of the lone ranger to the means of production”. In 1980 he wrote, “At the Dim’crack Convention”. In 1981 he wrote “Boy and Tarzan in clearing” and “Weimar 2”. In 1982 he wrote “Money”. In 1984 he wrote “Primitive World”. The last play that he wrote was written in 1992 and it was titled “General Hags Skeezag.
Amiri Baraka had also written fiction and non-fiction books. Some fiction books that he had written were “System of Dante’s Hell” and “Tales”. In his life he had written a long list of non-fiction books. In 1961 “Cuba Libre” was written. In 1963 “Blues People” was written. In 1966 he wrote “Homes”. In 1968 he wrote “Black Music”. In 1969 “Trippin: A need for change”. In 1970 “A Black Value” was written. In 1971 “Raise Race Rays Raze” , Strategy and Tactics of a Pan African Nationalist Party”. In 1972 “The New Nationalism” was written. In 1974 “African Free School”, “Crisis in Boston”, “National Liberation and Politics” and “Toward Ideological Charity”. In 1975 “The Creation of The New Ark” was written. In 1979 “Spring Song” was written. In 1984 he wrote “Daggers and Javelins” and he had written an autobiography of himself called “The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones/ Amiri Baraka”. In 1986 he wrote “The Artist and Social Responsibility” in 1987 he wrote “Reflections on Jazz and Blues”. The last book that he has written was in 1991 and the book was titled “A Race Divided”
Besides the fact that he was an author and that he wrote many books, he has done other stuff. In 1956 Amiri Baraka had divorced his wife Hettie Cohen. She had depicted her life in a memoir called “How I became Hettie Jones”. He later on in 1966 married a black woman named Sylvia Robinson (later to be called Amina Baraka). They had five kids. He had helped in 1967 organize a National Bank Power Conference and the next year he left out his slave name “Jones” and replaced it with Imamu, but then he dropped it.
Amiri was a teacher at the New School for Social Research, New York, he taught there for 3 years. He also taught at San Francisco State College, Yale University, New Haven, and George Washington University, Washington, D.C. He later retired from teaching in the year 2000, he still continues to write his poems.
– World Book Encyclopaedia
– The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka 1984
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