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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

15. Poetry of Liberation

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Activities: Author Activities

Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) - Selected Archive Items

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[4314] Leroy McLucas, Imamu Amiri Baraka, Formerly LeRoi Jones, Head-and-Shoulders Portrait, Facing Right (1965),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-115116].
In 1965, after the assassination of Malcolm X, Amiri Baraka divorced his white wife, changed his name, and moved to Harlem, where he became a prominent figure in the Black Arts movement. Since then, Baraka has revised his black nationalist views in favor of Marxism and dropped "Imamu" (a Muslim word which means "spiritual leader") from his name.

[6262] Anonymous, LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Allen Ginsberg and John Fles (1959),
courtesy of the Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries.
Jones (Baraka) and Ginsberg seated in living room with drums. Jones was originally associated with the Beat movement, but with the growth of the Black Power movement, he changed his focus to political civil rights.

[7138] Anonymous, LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) Leads the Black Arts Parade Down 125th Toward the Black Arts Theater Repertory/School on 130th Street, New York City (1965),
courtesy of The Liberator.
Influenced by civil rights activism and black nationalism, Baraka (Jones) and other African American artists opened the Black Arts Theater in Harlem in 1965.

[7430] Anonymous, Beat Poet Allen Ginsberg's Former Companion, Peter Orlovsky, Left, and Black Activist Poet Amiri Baraka Speak with Each Other (1997),
courtesy of the Associated Press.
While a graduate student at Columbia, LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) knew some of the Beat writers, with whom he shared an interest in living on the fringes of American society. However, after the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, Baraka considered racial harmony in America impossible. Much of Baraka's work reflects this more militant perspective. His "Civil Rights Poem" was written during a homophobic period, though earlier he had been friends with a number of the gay members of the Beat Generation, and here he is featured with Ginsberg's ex-lover.

[7432] Anonymous, Imamu Amiri Baraka, the Former Poet-Playwright LeRoi Jones (1974),
courtesy of the Associated Press AP.
This photo of Imamu Amiri Baraka was taken when he announced in Trenton on Wednesday, January 9, 1974, that the New Jersey Black Political Assembly would meet in New Brunswick, New Jersey, January 26, to select delegates to the National Black Political Convention.

[7495] Herman Hiller, Malcolm X at Queens Court (1964),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-119478].
Portrait of Malcolm X. Malcolm X's assassination prompted Amiri Baraka to emphasize race in his art.

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