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Baraka, Amiri (LeRoi Jones)

Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)

Amiri Baraka (1934-2014), the most influential African American author of the 1960s, helped to shape the language of most every African American social and artistic movement from the 1950s through his death in the twenty-first century.  Born Everett LeRoy Jones to middle-class parents in Newark, New Jersey, Baraka died in the same city, the “New Ark” where his son, Ras Baraka, was elected mayor in 2014.  The practical inventor of the Black Arts movement, Baraka also flung himself into multiple reinventions of identity, style, and genre.  The 1950s saw Baraka, then known as LeRoi Jones, thriving in the interracial bohemia of Greenwich Village while writing and publishing Beat-influenced poetry.  In the early 1960s, he won an Obie Award for the unforgiving black-white drama Dutchman (1964) and published Blues People (1963), a seminal history of African American music considered as “the history of the Afro-American people as text, as tale, as story, [and] as exposition.”  Baraka’s art and activism took a more radical black nationalist turn after the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, a crime for which he eventually blamed the FBI.  Within months of the murder, Baraka had moved to Harlem and founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School (BARTS), the prototypical institution of the Black Arts movement.  Though it had opened in 1957 with inquiries into Baraka’s possible Communism, his FBI file ballooned with the establishment of BARTS.  Bureau informers, present at BARTS’s first meetings in Harlem, also recorded some of Baraka’s poetry readings as he toured the U.S.  Baraka fought back against FBI secrecy by making portions of his FBI file public years prior to his death.


Baraka Part 1

Baraka Part 2

Baraka Part 3

Baraka, Amiri (LeRoi Jones)

FBI documents studying Amiri Baraka.




Material is in the public domain.

text, approx. 700-800 PDFs (incomplete file), 400 ppi




Baraka, Amiri (LeRoi Jones)