The Life and Poetry of Amiri Baraka Essay

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The Life and Poetry of Amiri Baraka "To understand that you are black in a society where black is an extreme liability is one thing, but to understand that it is the society that is lacking and impossibly deformed, and not yourself, isolates you even more" (About 3). This is a direct quote from Baraka, and it outlines his beliefs well. History and society have always influenced Amiri Baraka, and this made him feel as though society was isolating the Black community. Throughout his life, Baraka has tried to teach the idea of equality among races and classes by way of his poetry, plays, and speeches. His concept of equality came from his experiences while growing up during the time of the Civil Rights Movement. He held three…show more content…
He then moved to Greenwich Village, and joined with the likes of Allen Ginsburg, Charles Olson, and Frank O'Hara. These artists, musicians, and writers were known as the "Beat Generation" (Baraka 1). During this time, Leroy had his works recognized by literary giant, Langston Hughes. He was also given an award for his off-Broadway play, Dutchman. On October 13, 1958, he married Hettie Cohen, a middle-class Jewish woman with whom he co-edited a magazine (Amiri 1). With his new reputation as a writer, he opened the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School (BART/S) on April 30, 1965. The idea was to open a channel between the black artists and the masses. Even though the life of the BART/S was short, the idea spread across the nation (BARTS 1). When his theater failed to stay open, he began to distance himself from white society. In 1965, with the assassination of Malcolm X, this hatred was solidified. From this point, Baraka took Malcolm's view of Black Nationalism. It was a view of equality, even through militant means (Young 3). The man who buried Malcolm X gave Leroy the Muslim name, Ameer Baraka, and later Ron Karenga, perhaps one of the strongest voices in the Black Nationalist Movement, changed Ameer to Amiri (Young 3). With his new name, and his new values, Baraka divorced Hettie and abandoned his children, leaving them for Newark. He then married Sylvia Robinson, who changed her name to Amina Baraka (Amiri 1). In
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