Everett LeRoi Jones

Everett LeRoi Jones

Everett LeRoi Jones (who published after 1967 under the name Imamu Amiri Baraka) was born in 1934 in Newark, New Jersey. Always controversial and often confrontational, Baraka, often referred to as the founder of the Black Arts Movement, has reinvented himself artistically and politically over the course of his career as a music critic, novelist, playwright, poet, and social activist. Editing and publishing with Hettie Cohen the periodical Yugen and with Diane Di Prima the publication Floating Bear, Baraka laid claim to Beat Movement credentials with both his avant-garde poetry and his friendship with Frank O’Hara, Allen Ginsberg, and Gilbert Sorrentino. With the convergence of the civil rights movement and the death of Malcolm X, Baraka embraced black nationalism, a stance he later rejected as racist, but which helped to solidify Baraka’s assessment by his contemporaries as the creator of a new black aesthetic. As his political thought and artistic sense evolved, Baraka became a Third World socialist, and, most recently, a Marxist. His post- September-eleventh poetic statement entitled Somebody Blew Up America caused its own firestorm when Baraka speculated that “Israeli workers” had prior knowledge of the World Trade Center bombings. Swift and aggressive response from the national news media brought the rescinding of the title that he then held as the poet laureate of New Jersey. The recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, an Obie (off Broadway) Award for his play Dutchman, and the American Book Award for Confirmation: An Anthology of African American Women, Baraka has also been awarded numerous other national and international honors.

The Seven Principles of the Black Value System

Umoja (Unity)—To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)—To define ourselves, name ourselves, and speak for ourselves, instead of being defined, and spoken for, by others.

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)—To build and maintain our community together and to make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)—To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit together from them.

Nia (Purpose)—To make as our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Kuumba (Creativity)—To do always as much as we can, in the way we can in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than when we inherited it.

Imani (Faith)—To believe with all our heart in our parents, our teachers, our leaders, our people, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

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Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Library
Syracuse, NY 13244
Last modified: June 09, 2012 12:35 PM
URL: http://libwww.syr.edu /digital/exhibits/b/BlackArts/case1.htm