Al Freeman

Recent Articles

Maya Angelou April 4, 1928 — May 28, 2014

How does one pay adequate tribute to the legacy of Maya Angelou, the beloved historic icon and cultural treasure who passed away on May 28? Her enduring presence as an enlightening, empowering beacon to which the hearts and minds of Black women faithfully were drawn, after all, marked her as an individual of inestimable consequence whose like we quite probably will never see again. Dr. Angelou, nee Marguerite Annie Johnson, advanced from an auspicious literary debut, publishing her first autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings with the aid of James Baldwin, who would become a lifelong friend, to a titanic career that spanned more than a half century. Her accomplishments included, in far from a complete listing, a film rendition of the book starring Diahann Carroll and Ruby Dee; six more autobiographies; acting turns in The Richard Pryor Special?, Poetic Justice with Janet Jackson, and Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion; as well as stints directing (Down In The Delta, starring Alfre Woodward, featuring Al Freeman, Jr), producing (Sister, Sister with Rosalind Cash, Diahann Carroll and Paul Winfield), and scoring film soundtracks (For Love of Ivy, starring Sidney Poitier). She is best known for her vast volume of poetry, most notably “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she recited at President Bill Clinton’s 1994 inauguration. Continue Reading →

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Amiri Baraka dies at age 79

By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer

 

In 1964, Amiri Baraka (then going by his given name LeRoi Jones) stood the American Theatre on its ear with the wildly controversial, Obie Award-winning drama Dutchman. He never equaled that success again, but his name and lasting fame had been solidly established, enhanced by the 1967 film version starring Al Freeman, Jr. (Malcolm X, Once Upon A Time…When We Were Colored) and directed by Anthony Harvey (The Lion In Winter, The Glass Menagerie). The story, a rite-of-passage saga for African American males, depicted the explosive self-realization of a young, middle-class man shattering the veneer of social convention to assert his Blackness. Baraka’s career began in the early ’60s among New York City’s bohemian elite most notably with his book Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note and his founding of Totem Press, which published the works of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. One of the most highly-regarded writers and controversial figures of his generation, he is hailed as a primary architect of the historic Black Arts Movement, which — also in the ’60s — saw the emergence of playwright Ed Bullins, poets Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez, and novelists Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Ishmael Reed. Continue Reading →

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