Amiri Baraka

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The Good Wife Works – White and Blacks as allies and marriage partners

“The whites and their hatreds are the problem and not us.” — bell hooks, Bone Black

 

When the U.S. State Department’s former Secretary Dean Rusk’s daughter married a Black man, the Department received a few hundred nasty letters and calls. “An American Nazi Party captain in El Monte, Calif. declared: “I’d probably kill any of my children before I’d let them do such a thing.”

His reaction was echoed by a respectable businessman lunching at the Westmoreland Country Club in Glenview, Ill.: ‘If I were Rusk, I’d be inclined to shoot the guy.’ A grande dame at the Orlando Country Club in Florida gloated: ‘It will serve the old goat right to have ni**er grandbabies.’

Many others, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preferred to view the match as a personal affair. “Individuals marry,” said King, “not races.” (source: Time Magazine)

Here in St. Paul, the anniversary of the Loving vs. Continue Reading →

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The torch has been passed

The passing of Chokwe Lumumba, William Worthy, Amiri Baraka, Maya Angelou, Elombe Braath, Sam Greenlee and Vincent Harding in the last few months marks a turning of the page for Black people in this country. If you don’t know the history and the accomplishment of these great people, each having contributed a unique page to the struggle of the former slave to be seen simply as human and be afforded the rights and dignity of human beings, then get to know them. They were all activists in their own right: a novelist, a theologian and liberationist, a warrior poet, an anti-imperialist radical journalist, a staunch pan-Africanist, a poet laureate and a ground-breaking politician. They have left a gaping hole. Their legacies await fulfilling. 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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Guthrie Theater’s smug and offensive “Clybourne Park” perpetuates the illusion of a “post-Civil-Rights” society

 

By Peter Rachcleff, Community Voices/Twin Cities Daily Planet

 

Clybourne Park is a significant play. It won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Drama and, in 2012, was awarded the Tony Award for best Broadway drama. A cursory glance over the schedules for regional theater in the past two years suggests that it is the most widely produced play in the country. The Guthrie has made a major investment in the play, from hiring a top notch production team and cast to building an enormous, complex set, and booking the play for a lengthy run of eight weeks. On the night I attended, most of the apparently full house (around 700) at the McGuire Proscenium Stage—almost all of whom were, like me, white—loved the play. Continue Reading →

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